Possible Difference in Microbial Colonies found in Avian Cavity Nesting Species

Student: Kyle Davis
Mentor: Dustin Reichard (Department of Zoology)

We are looking to see what kind of microorganisms reside on the chicks, parents, and nests of local nest box species. I am then looking to see if there are any patterns in the types of microorganisms based on habitat, time of year, species, and the direction the nest box is facing.

While there are reports of the microbial content of single species of birds in nest boxes there are few reports that compare microbial content between different species and explore whether outside factors affect these differences. We compared microbial loads on the parents, the nests, and the nestlings, of the Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis), Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor), House Wren (Troglodytes aedon), and House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) that occupy local bird boxes. We looked for correlations between weather, location, and box orientation to see if they have an effect on bacterial load.