Earlier this week we went out to band 3 nestlings in a box. When we looked inside, the box was thick with some kind of flying insect, a little gnat of some kind I think. They were flying around in our bucket as we brought the chicks down for banding and crawling around on the chicks, in and out of their feathers. One bird had about 10 of them all clustered together on one spot on its head. These nestlings were about 21 days old, growing lots of blood rich pin feathers all over their bodies. I'm wondering if the gnats were feeding on some of the blood from the feathers. What to do?
Since the nestlings were not exactly lethargic, but were certainly the most docile and quiet that we had handled this year, we were worried about their health. It seemed a shame to put them back into the same filthy, bug infested box. So we quickly and thoroughly cleaned out the box and added fresh wood shavings before placing the chicks back inside. I certainly hope this will not disturb the parents!! The great worry would be if it causes them to abandon the nest. Has anyone had a similar experience? Is it best to just return the chicks to the same environment or is it okay to clean out a box before the birds have fledged?