Cheilospirura gymnorhinis is often referred to as the throat worm of juvenile magpies. It can be mistaken for Gape Worm (Gape Worm is red; Throat worm is white).
Throat worm occurs in the oral cavity and in the pharynx of magpies, butcher-birds, currawongs, magpie-larks and black-faced cuckoo shrikes. C. gymnorhinis burrows its head into the mouth and throat of the host species which then responds by creating a nodule around the parasite.
In severe cases these nodules can cause blockage of the glottis, prevent ingestion of food and cause severe debilitation and death of the host bird.
Manual removal of the parasites by tweezers is recommended in conjunction with the use of Ivermectin oral anthelmintic (drench), available from rural produce store or veterinarian. Euthanasia should be considered as the most humane option for severe burdens of Throat worm.
A colour-mutant magpie chick from Port Macquarie. This young bird is suffering a debilitating burden of Throat worms as evidenced by photos of some of the many hundreds of worms painstakingly removed.
Story Meredith Ryan, FAWNA (NSW) Inc.