Garden Bird Health initiative (GBHi)
The Garden Bird Health initiative is a highly collaborative project which launched in Spring 2005.
A surveillance system is in place to record and investigate causes of garden bird mortality and disease across Great Britain. Through opportunistic and systematic monitoring of garden bird mortality, achieved with assistance from the general public and by volunteers from the BTO Garden BirdWatch scheme , we aim to learn more about ecological and anthropogenic factors associated with increased risk of infectious disease at garden feeding stations.
Results are used to evaluate supplementary feeding practices, recommend methods to mitigate identified risk factors and to inform the development of best practice guidelines for feeding garden birds based on sound science in the future.
Since 2011, available funding for the GBHi has been reduced and the systematic surveillance work has had to cease. The GBHi network of collaborating organisations remains in place and the Institute of Zoology receives funding from Defra to participate in the GB Wildlife Disease Surveillance Partnership and undertake disease surveillance of British garden birds.
Who should I contact with my report?
Members of the public can help by reporting sightings of dead birds or signs of disease in garden birds on 0207 449 6685.
If you find a dead bird please do NOT touch it but first call the above telephone number to report the incident and determine whether it may be possible to arrange for a post mortem examination to be performed. Please do not send carcases without prior arrangement.
All reports will help us to understand the causes of disease in garden birds. This is essential for developing improved methods for prevention of disease.
Members of the public who are concerned about a sick or injured bird in their garden should contact their local veterinary surgeon, Universities Federation for Animal Welfare ( UFAW ) (Tel: 01582 831 818) or the RSPCA (24-hour tel. line: 0300 1234 999) for further advice.
Where can I find further information on feeding garden birds?
Further information and advice can be found on the GBHi webpage on the UFAW website
The UFAW Working Group has produced a leaflet which includes advice on feeding garden birds and information on the GBHi. This leaflet is available free of charge by contacting UFAW at the address below, or can be downloaded as a PDF from the UFAW website . Further detailed information is available in a 32-page booklet on "Feeding garden birds: best practice guidelines". To obtain copies of this booklet, or for donations to support this area of research, please contact UFAW:
Universities Federation of Animal Welfare,
The Old School, Brewhouse Hill, Wheathampstead, Herts AL4 8AN
T: 01582 831818
Registered charity No.207996
Collaborators on the GBHi include:
- British Trust for Ornithology (BTO)
- Department of Veterinary Pathology, University of Liverpool Veterinary School
- Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)
- Salmonella Reference Unit, Laboratory of Enteric Pathogens, Health Protection Agency (HPA)
- Scottish Agricultural College (SAC)
- Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW)
- University of East Anglia
- Wildlife Veterinary Investigation Centre (WVIC)
The GBHi would like to acknowledge the following for their generous financial support:
- Birdcare Standards Association
- British Veterinary Association: Animal Welfare Foundation
- CJ WildBird Foods Ltd.
- Cranswick Pet Products
- Gardman Ltd.
- The John and Pamela Salter Trust
- Tom Chambers Ltd.
- The RCVS Trust