Parasitism is not well documented for birds found in tropical habitats. Long-distance migratory birds may face additional risks to an already hazardous journey when infected. This study explores the ecology of an ectoparasite infestation in Chiapas, Mexico. During a mist-netting project in 2 different coffee management systems, chigger mites (Acarina: Trombiculidae), ectoparasitic during the larval stage, were found on both resident and migratory birds. Using a rapid assessment protocol, it was observed that 17 of 26 species of long-distance migrants and 33 of 71 resident species had at least 1 infested individual. Infestation prevalences were unexpectedly high on some long-distance migrants, as high as 0.73 for Swainson's thrush (Catharus ustulatus), a value on par with heavily infested resident species. Prevalence was highest during winter sampling: 0.18 overall, 0.16 of migrants, and 0.23 of residents. Prevalence was 0.14 for resident birds during the summer breeding season. Mean abundance and mean intensity of infestation are reported for 97 species captured and inspected during the course of this study. In this region, chigger mite larvae are relatively common on birds and their abundance varies seasonally. High prevalence for some migratory birds suggests that more research and monitoring of ectoparasites are needed, especially in light of emerging diseases.

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