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Brain Parasite in White-Necked Raven

Austin Paul Smith
Publication Information
2 (March-April)
From Field and Study

Brain Parasite in White-necked Raven

During a tramp about the foothills of the Whetstone Mountains, Arizona, May 25, 1907, my attention was directed to a White-necked Raven (Corvus cryptoleucus) some forty feet overhead, by its strange circular flight and gyrating movements. No birds of its kind were in sight at the time, and its indifference to my presence also surprised me; so after some moments of observation, I brought it to the ground with a charge of buck-shot.

In skinning the bird, close examination was paid to the brain-case and orbital region, and I was rewarded by finding, directly back of the eyes, and extending partly into the brain, a parasite more than an inch in length, about the thickness of wrapping twine, pale yellow in color. The parasite showed considerable activity for an hour or more, when immersed in water.

The bird's sight may or may not have been impaired, tho cursory notice of the eyes, after being wounded, and before it expired, showed nothing unusual. Notwithstanding its size, the parasite must have been of recent date, with rapid growth, as the bird was an adult 6, and it would seem unlikely that any animal in the fierce struggle for survival in nature, could exist for a year or more in a defective mental state, as this bird's actions would clearly indicate.


Benson, Arizona

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