Bird Observer - The New England Birding Journal

Bird Observer

The Birding Journal for New England

February 2019

Vol. 47, No. 1

Gleanings: It’s Enough to Drive Them Loony

David M. Larson

Common Loon on nest. Photograph by Brian Henderson. (CC BY-NC 2.0).

One of the scourges of the Great North Woods is the black fly. Arriving in insatiable hordes, biting through flesh to feed on blood, female black flies torment vertebrates during their brief life span. Humans have tried repellants from smoke to chemicals, barriers from clothing to creosote and lard and, of course, avoidance. For nonhuman mammals and birds, life during the two- to three-week life span of black flies is torturous. Nesting birds are particularly vulnerable since they are unable to escape without endangering eggs or nestlings.

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