Target Taxa

Summary

Several species of Passeriformes are being screened for the UCLA/NIH Avian Influenza Project. To date, over 290 species have been sampled. However, special emphasis has been placed on screening and characterizing samples from ten specific species. Six of these species are Nearctic-Neotropical migrants and the other four are non-migratory or partial migratory species.

The six species of Nearctic-Neotropical migratory species were selected specifically to investigate how AIV stain abundance and distribution is related to migratory connectivity.  These species breed in the U.S. and Canada and overwinter in Mexico, Central America, and South America.

The four non-migratory or partial migratory species were selected to investigate AIV transmission between birds and humans.  These species are particularly well suited to spread this pathogen between non-human and human hosts because they live in close association with humans and agriculture and are found throughout North America.

Nearctic-Neotropical migratory species

Swainson's Thrush (Catharus ustulatus) is one of the most common birds of the northern spruce-fir forests (Evans and Yong 2000). It breeds as far north as Alaska and northern Canada, and winters mostly in Mexico and northern South America. However, it is less abundant in Central America. Influenza strains have been isolated from this species (Stallknecht and Shane 1988).

Photo by Greg Gillson, The Bird Guide, Inc., http://thebirdguide.com

Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus) is one of the most widely distributed forest-nesting migratory birds in North America (Jones and Donovan 1996). It breeds across most of Canada and the western and northeastern U.S. and overwinters throughout much of the southern U.S. and Mexico and as far south as Guatemala. Influenza strains have been isolated from this species (Stallknecht and Shane 1988).

Photo by Tom Grey

Wilson's Warbler (Wilsonia pusilla) is a common wood warbler associated with mesic habitats (Ammon and Gilbert 1999). It breeds from the boreal forests of eastern Canada west to British Columbia and parts of Alaska, Montana, Idaho, and the Pacific coast of south central California. Its wintering range extends from eastern and western Mexico and parts of southern Louisiana and Texas to Panama.

Photo by Greg Gillson, The Bird Guide, Inc., http://thebirdguide.com

Nashville Warbler (Vermivora ruficapilla) is a common wood warbler that occupies two highly disjointed breeding regions in eastern and western North America (Williams 1996).  It winters from northwestern Mexico and southern Texas south through Central Mexico and into Guatemala and El Salvador. Small numbers of these birds winter along the coasts from Baja California to Washington. 

Photo by Michael Mc Dowell

Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas) is one of the most common and widely distributed Wood Warblers in North America (Guzy and Ritchison 1999). It breeds across much of Canada and the U.S., and south into Baja California Norte, Oaxaca and Vera Cruz, Mexico. Common Yellowthroats winter along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, in southern California, and throughout Mexico and Latin America. 

Photo by Greg Gillson, The Bird Guide, Inc., http://thebirdguide.com

Yellow Warbler (Dendroica  petechia) is a common Wood Warbler that breeds from Alaska and Canada south to the central U.S. and west into Mexico (Lowther et al. 1999 ). It also breeds in southern Florida, throughout the Caribbean and Central American coasts, and in northern South America.  It winters in Mexico, Central America, and South America. Influenza strains have been isolated from this species (Stallknecht and Shane 1988).

Photo by Greg Gillson, The Bird Guide, Inc., http://thebirdguide.com

Non-migratory or partial migratory species

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) was introduced to North America in 1851 and is widespread throughout the continent (Lowther and Cink 1992). This species is closely associated with human settlements and is non-migratory. Influenza strains have been isolated from this species (Stallknecht and Shane 1988). 

Photo by Geoffrey Dabb

House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus) is a common species found in a variety of habitats in the western U.S., yet it is mostly associated with urban and suburban areas in the east (Hill 1993). Eastern populations and some western populations migrate to wintering grounds in the southern U.S. Most western populations are sedentary. House Finches and Sparrows frequently form mixed species flocks.

Photo by Mathew Hunt

European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) was introduced to North America in 1890, and numbers now exceed 200 million (Cabe 1993). Starlings are most frequently associated with habitats disturbed by humans, especially agricultural areas. Migratory behavior is highly variable, with different populations and even individuals migrating to different parts of the range.

Photo by Greg Gillson, The Bird Guide, Inc., http://thebirdguide.com

Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) is a brood parasite that comes into close contact with migratory birds and is typically associated with agricultural areas in close proximity to humans (Lowther 1993). Formerly occurring in the central grasslands of the U.S., forest clearing has allowed it to extend its range across most of North America, and its population has increased dramatically.

Photo by Greg Gillson, The Bird Guide, Inc., http://thebirdguide.com

References

Ammon, E. M. and W. M. Gilbert. 1999. Wilson’s Warbler (Wilsonia pusilla). In A. Poole and F. Gill (Eds.). The Birds of North America, No. 478 . The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

Cabe, P.R. 1993. European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris). In A. Poole and F. Gill (Eds.). The Birds of North America, No. 48. The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia and The American Ornithologists’ Union, Washington, D.C.

Evans, M. D. and W. Yong. 2000. Swainson’s Thrush (Catharus ustulatus). In A. Poole and F. Gill (Eds.). The Birds of North America, No. 540. The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

Guzy, M. J. and G. Ritchison. 1999. Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas). In A. Poole and F. Gill (Eds.). The Birds of North America, No. 448. The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

Hill, G. E. 1993. House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus). In A. Poole and  F. Gill (Eds.). The Birds of North America, No. 46. The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia and The American Ornithologists’ Union, Washington, D.C.

Jones, P., T. Donovan. 1996. Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus). In A. Poole, F. Bill (Eds.). The Birds of North America. The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia and The American Ornithologists’ Union, Washington, D.C.

Lowther, P.E. 1993. Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater). In A. Poole and F. Gill (Eds.). The Birds of North America, No. 47. The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia and The American Ornithologists’ Union, Washington, D.C.

Lowther, P. E., C. Celada, N. K. Klein, C. C. Rimmer, D. A. Spector. 1999. Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia). The Birds of North America Online. In A. Poole, (Eds.). Ithaca: Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

Lowther, P. E. and C. L. Cink. 1992. House Sparrow. In A. Poole, P. Stettenheim, and F. Gill (Eds.). The Birds of North America, No. 12. The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia and The American Ornithologists’ Union, Washington, D.C.

Stallknecht, D. E. and S. M. Shane. 1988. Host range of avian influenza virus in free-living birds. Veterinary Research Communications 12: 125-141.

Williams, J.M. 1996. Nashville Warbler (Vermivora ruficapilla). In A. Poole and F. Gill (Eds.). The Birds of North America, No. 205. The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia and The American Ornithologists’ Union, Washington, D.C.


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