Severe bill deformity of an American Kestrel wintering in California

Western Birds
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During a recent survey for West Nile virus in wild birds around the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge, Imperial County, California (Dusek et al. 2010), we captured a female American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) with a severe bill deformity (Figure 1). The kestrel was captured on 9 March 2006, at 08:45, approximately 0.25 km south of the intersection of Wiest and Lindsey roads (33°  08' 42' N, 115° 26' 59' W) and 6 km east-northeast of Calipatria. It was caught on a bal-chatri trap baited with a domestic mouse (Berger and Mueller 1959), as were all the 208 kestrels captured during this study. The bird was initially perched on a high transmission line running along Wiest Road and was caught within 10 minutes of our setting the trap. In examining the bird, we observed that the maxilla beyond the cere was missing. The upper bill structure from the palatine process, which included part of the maxilla, the entire premaxilla, and the external rhamphotheca (the hardened keratin layer cover­ ing the premaxilla) was missing rostral to the bird's cere and nares (Threlfall 1968, Lucas and Stettenheim 1972, Proctor and Lynch 1993). The epidermal layer of the cere appeared to have fused over the remaining area between the nares where the upper bill normally would have been. The deformation did not appear to be recent or related to our trapping, as there were no obvious abrasions or open wounds in the region surrounding the nares and oropharynx or signs of recent trauma surrounding the oropharynx area. Both nares were clearly defined, and the tongue protruded from the open oropharynx area. After completing the physical examination, measurements, and obtaining a blood sample for testing for West Nile virus, we released the kestrel at the location of capture. After its release, we monitored the kestrel's behavior for approximately 30 minutes but did not observe any additional hunting.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Severe bill deformity of an American Kestrel wintering in California
Series title Western Birds
Volume 42
Issue 4
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher Western Field Ornithologists
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center, National Wildlife Health Center
Description 4 p.
First page 251
Last page 254
Country United States
State California
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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