Disease spread across species to cause loss of 1.5 million garden birds according to new report

Trichomonosis, typically found in pigeons and doves in the UK was first recognized as a new infectious disease in British finches in 2005.

The paper states that, because of Finch trichomonosis, the breeding greenfinch population in Great Britain declined from around 4.3 million to around 2.8 million birds and the average number of greenfinches visiting gardens has declined by 50 per cent.

After spreading across the British Isles, Finch trichomonosis has now been found in continental Europe, where it was first seen in 2008. Migrating chaffinches carrying the parasite from Britain are thought to be the most likely cause of this spread.

While greenfinches and chaffinches are the species that have been most frequently affected, many other garden bird species, including house sparrows, are susceptible to the condition.

Signs of Trichomonosis include general illness, for example lethargy and fluffed-up plumage, drooling saliva, regurgitating food, difficulty in swallowing or laboured breathing. Finches are frequently seen to have matted wet plumage around the face and beak. The disease may progress over several days or possibly weeks, consequently affected birds have often lost a lot of weight.

Diagnosis of trichomonosis in wild birds relies on a post mortem examination. If you wish to report finding dead garden birds, or signs of disease in garden birds, please call the Garden Bird Health initiative on 020 7449 6685.

The paper, published in a special issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B

[LINK:3330|CAPTION:More information about the Garden Bird Health Initiative

More news from ZSL

Boophis luteus frog in Madagascar

Devastating chytrid fungus responsible for massive declines of amphibian populations around the world is found on isolated Madagascar.

Cheetah Camera Trap Image

New research into the critically endangered Saharan cheetah establishes it as one of the world’s rarest large cats

Orconectes australis (Southern Cave Crayfish). Photo: Guenter Schuster

The results of a global assessment, led by scientists from the Zoological Society of London and University College London, have revealed that...