TRICHOMONAS is the coronavirus of birds as it is highly contagious and quickly decimates their numbers.

It has been around since 2005 and has reduced the greenfinch population by 60%. Unlike coronavirus it is not caused by a virus but by a protozoas infection and does not affect humans or mammals.

I have recently had an affected greenfinch and goldfinch on my birdfeeder. It is very distressing to see. Affected birds are puffed up with matted wet plumage on their chest and have difficulty swallowing food and water.

It seems to affect all birds but it is a particular problem for finches as they tend to congregate in flocks, particularly around feeders. The peak season is June – September.

In order to reduce the spread of the disease when an affected bird is seen feeders should be removed and thoroughly disinfected (a weak solution of bleach will do), rinse them thoroughly and leave them to air dry. Gloves should be worn when handling birdfeeders as there is always the potential for salmonella. Stop feeding for 2-4 weeks and then gradually re-introduce feeding, keeping a close look out for signs of illhealth.

In this dry weather it is important to provide water for drinking and bathing. At night I empty the bird bath and disinfect it and leave it to air dry. I check it during the day and clean and refill when necessary. Although this is also a source of infection it is better to provide clean water than risk the birds having to go elsewhere to find less clean water.

Wyke Regis