This has been an especially prolific year for ticks in the northeastern region of the United States. We've had so many in our yard that I've given up gardening and switched to planting in pots!

We find them on ourselves frequently after filling our large number of bird feeders and bird baths. I think they're mostly in the tall grasses, wildflowers, other plants, and the regular lawn. I don't think they live in trees, though I'm not sure. Perhaps they're in the lower sections, near the grasses and vines.

There are very few deer in this neighborhood, but I know dogs and other animals, like the fox that's been wandering through every once in a while, leave ticks here for our enjoyment!

It only recently occurred to me that birds might be affected. We can clean up most of the obvious places where the ticks hide in our yard, but that doesn't mean the birds are safe. Obviously we can't clean up the woods or water sources inhabited by the wild birds.

I don't recall hearing that birds are affected by ticks, but I've never studied it either. Do ticks like birds, whether in the yard or in the wild? If so, do they bite them as they do with humans, or do they hang on and use the birds as carriers?

  • 2
    Ticks can live on trees. They tend to wait anyplace mammals walk past and brush against, be it bark, tree leafs, grasses.
    – cr0
    Commented Jul 22, 2017 at 0:36
  • 1
    This Q deserves a more complete answer than I have time to research. I have found that birds can carry ticks, but not whether bids can be made sick by ticks.
    – ab2
    Commented Jul 22, 2017 at 1:37
  • @cr0 That's really good to know about trees. It's interesting from the perspective of how birds might get ticks. It's especially good to know because I thought we humans were safe leaning against the trees as long as we avoided the grass. Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 19:36
  • 1
    Ticks can definitely fall on you from trees. Or maybe those in Indiana can fly. ;)
    – topshot
    Commented Jul 26, 2017 at 15:09

1 Answer 1


Yes, birds can get ticks.

I found some sources online, amongst them this paper, which also contains information about birds and borreliosis.

Primarily wild living birds are affected by ticks. Ticks use them as host and bite them, feed on them. The birds can spread borelliosis , and while the ticks don't just hang on birds to use them as a carrier, birds can carry ticks over large distances. Due to to lifecycles of ticks as a larvae, nymph and adult, ticks can actually make use of this relocation and infest new areas.

An interesting additional information is that healthy birds can do well with a tick sucking their blood. However, if a smaller bird is host to multiple ticks, it can succumb the blood loss and die.


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