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Old 08-06-2009, 06:51 PM   #1
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Default 'Feather-eating bugs' dull birds

'Feather-eating bugs' dull birds
Matt Walker
Editor, Earth News
Page last updated at 09:33 GMT, Monday, 3 August 2009 10:33 UK

BBC - Earth News - 'Feather-eating bugs' dull birds
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Brightly coloured birds can become infected with bacteria that eat their feathers.

That in turn can affect the health of the birds and dull their plumage.
The discovery comes from a study that found that 99% of all Eastern bluebirds surveyed in Virginia, US were infected with feather-degrading bacteria.

Such bacteria were first discovered a decade ago, but the latest research is the best evidence yet that the bugs affect the colour and health of birds.

"Feather-degrading bacteria are relatively new to ornithologists," says Alex Gunderson of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, US.
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