Feather mites are harmless, possibly even beneficial to their host birds. Image: Heather Proctor
Feather mites help to keep the feathers of birds clean - life short science news

Birds have found to benefit from the presence of feather mites in their plumage, and not suffer from them as previously thought.

Scientists have reached this conclusion after studying the gut contents of these tiny creatures, which appeared to be made up of fungi spores and bacteria. The mites thus do not feed on the feathers, but rather on the pathogens that harm the plumage.

One could argue that the relation between mites and birds is symbiotic: birds provide food to the mites, and the mites keep the birds’ feathers clean.

Read the full story: University of Alberta
Scientific publication: Molecular Ecology