Yesterday while rescuing a teensy swallow (so cute!) that had fallen out of its nest I had a funny feeling on my skin. You know when you wake up at night, and think "there's something crawling on my arm!" but it's just your mind being silly? Ok, picture that feeling but when you look at your arm, there really ARE tiny somethings crawling on your arm. Ick, ick.
They look like dark specks of dust. Well, if dust was self-propelling I guess. But they are indeed the return of bird mites, commonly carried by wild birds. So, after a quick wash to get them off, I looked at the chickens who hang out in that barn. Oh goody, things moving around under their feathers.
One trip to the feed store and D's return from the hardware store (I needed a respirator,
apparently) later, I suited up looking like I was ready to clean up the Gulf Oil spill AND Three Mile Island, all in one. I looked just that good. Not really, but in the 30C (upper 80sF) evening it was, quite literally, hot. I put the anti-critter dust on the ten hens, who refused to enjoy the little massage they were getting and instead got annoyed with me. This morning they seem no worse for wear but I've not yet checked for effectiveness.
Further research last night makes me think some of what I saw were not bird mites, but the also-common bird lice. Double goody! At least the powder I put on them was good for both. We get to repeat the process in ten days, hooray!
This morning's surprise was on my visit to the barn to which D had evicted the swallow nest. I looked to see if the wee ones had made it and found none. Either snatched up or moved by the parents, I'm not sure, but I fear the former. While standing there, I saw one of our 4-week-old chicks also standing there and looking at me. Somehow it had snuck out of the pen, missed being counted when we shut the doors, and - most surprising - survived the night. With M's help she was caught and put back with her friends where I'm sure she'll tell them stories about the big world.
Wonder what today will bring?