As birds leave their nests and head south for the winter, they may leave you and yours some small gifts: bird mites.
There are a number of species of mites that fall under the general name bird mite. Most common among them is the northern fowl mite (Ornithonyssus sylviarum). These mites are blood-sucking parasites and usually are found on the birds or in their nests. Under normal conditions, bird mites go unnoticed by us. However, there are occasions when mites are forced away from their preferred hosts and wander into our homes as accidental invaders.
Bird mites can bite humans but, fortunately for us, don't pose a health threat. They don't transmit any diseases and are, for the most part, merely an annoyance. However, in recent years, bird mites have made the news by actually forcing people from their homes. In one case, an elderly lady in New York was removed from her home in a HazMat suit and taken to a local hospital where she spent two days undergoing treatment for the bites. Other than a moderate rash, the woman suffered little in the way of physical impairment, but that didn't stop her from suing her landlord for the psychological trauma (she won her case, by the way).