Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Fat birds - Finch disease

From time to time I spot particularly fat birds with fluffed-up plumage at the feeders. They are generally lethargic and don’t seem to bother when I walk up close to them. After about five days after noticing a bird like this I usually never see it again.

Siskin with Trichomoniasis disease video, 0:40 with background music, try 480p quality.

The Siskin male, shown above, I believe was suffering from the disease which is called Trichomoniasis and is most prevalent in finches. It is caused by a parasite and I suspect that at this time of year is most likely to be picked up at busy feeders and tables. I haven’t seen this siskin since this video was taken so I suspect it has died.

Hygiene is absolutely crucial in preventing the spread of this and other diseases at the feeders and tables. I have read differing opinions on what action should be taken when a bird is spotted in the garden. My approach is to:

Thoroughly clean the feeders with a scraper and then I use a brush with an antibacterial spray especially for bird feeders - giving a final rinse with boiling water.

Chase away the bird if it comes to the feeders – it will only pass the disease on to other birds. However I don’t particularly enjoy chasing it away but feel it must be done.

Slow-up feeding – this action is a bit more controversial. If I keep clean feeders and a diseased bird comes in and I stop feeding the birds, they could then go to unclean feeders and tables and pick up the disease there. I haven’t stopped feeding and have continued to scatter plenty of sunflower hearts on the ground – the chaffinches and greenfinches will feed there too. However I have been deliberately slow in refilling the feeders that the finches use - but today gave them all a good clean and refilled them. It has been very cold these last few days and I suspect some birds may have gone elsewhere as my clean feeders had no birds.

For more information on trichomoniasis and hygiene advice go to (scroll down page for photos) (photo)

The video, shown above, was taken in my garden on March 17th 2007.

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