Scientists are cautioning people who feed wild birds to regularly disinfect bird feeders and feeding sites as they are contributing to the spread of diseases, of which are causing previous rare illnesses to become epidemics, among some bird populations.
Poor hygiene, accumulations of droppings, stale food, and the congregation in the same locations are the reasons for the circulations of diseases between garden bird and other species.
The Zoological Society of London, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) collaborated with Fera Science in a study in which they analyzed the health data of wild birds from the past 25 years and found noticeable changes in the bird populations. In the study, they found trichomonosis caused by the protozoan parasite in a number of garden bird species, specifically the Greenfinch as it resulted in a 35% drop in population, falling from 4.3 to 2.8 million since 2005. Also found in the analysis were Paridae pox and passerine salmonellosis. These changes, according to the scientists, they believe, are caused by disease spread at bird feeding sites.
Katie Risely, a garden birdwatch organizer for the BTO, gave an explanation of how to combat the spread of diseases.
We’re calling on everyone who feeds wild birds to be aware of their responsibilites for preventing disease. Simple steps we’d recommend include offering a variety of food from accredited sources; feeding in moderation, so that feeders are typically emptied every one to two days; the regular cleaning of bird feeders; and rotation of feeding sites to avoid accumulation of waste food or bird droppings.
Becki Lawson of ZSL’s Institute of Zoology, who is the lead author of this study, also underscored the importance of deepening their understanding of the diseases to safeguard the health of garden birds as these illnesses and conditions have different means of transmissions.
[via The Guardian]