Unfortunately there has been an outbreak of a disease called Trichomonosis at the feeding station. Consequently, for the time being we have had to remove all of our bird feeders to prevent further spread.
The squirrel feeders remain in use by our red squirrels and can be viewed via our webcam: http://www.scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk/things-to-do/wildlife-webcams/loch-of-lowes/
You may find the following information useful in your own garden…
The disease is caused by the Trichomonad parasite and has become prevalent amongst wild birds since 2005. It was formerly only known to occur in pigeons and doves, some birds of prey and gamebirds.
Which birds are most affected?
Greenfinches are most commonly affected, but other finch species and house sparrows are susceptible to the disease.
The trichomonad parasite lives in the upper digestive tract of the bird, and its actions progressively block the bird’s throat making it unable to swallow food, eventually leading to starvation.
What are the symptoms?
Birds with the disease show signs of general illness (e.g. lethargy, fluffed-up plumage), but affected birds may also drool saliva, regurgitate food, have difficulty in swallowing or show laboured breathing. Finches are frequently seen to have matted wet plumage around the face and beak. In some cases, swelling of the neck may be visible from a distance.
How is it transmitted?
The trichomonad parasite is transmitted between birds when they feed one another with regurgitated food during the breeding season and through food or drinking water contaminated with recently regurgitated saliva, or possibly from droppings of an infected bird.
How can it be prevented?
There is no sure-fire way of preventing an outbreak of Trichomonosis. Good hygeine practice, specifically the regular cleaning of all feeders, bird baths and feeding surfaces, is an essential part of looking after garden birds and will help to lower the risk to birds of diseases including Trichomonosis.
What should I do if I suspect an outbreak?
If Trichomonosis is suspected, it is recommended to temporarily stop putting out food, except in tit feeders, and leave bird baths dry, for around two weeks, or until sick or dead birds are no longer found in the garden. This is in order to discourage birds from congregating, which may increase the potential for disease spread between individuals.
Visitor Centre Assistant