Tag Archives: pigeon

canker

Trichomoniasis – the hidden danger of bird feeding

As winter approaches, many households stock up on food for their feathered friends. Garden centres are bursting with the latest feeders, food and tables and buying good quality, clean food is very important.

Greenfinch on feeder

However, of even greater importance at this time of year is ensuring tables and feeders are kept scrupulously clean. Garden bird feeding is a commendable pursuit but it is clear that it can result in unnatural aggregations of birds feeding in a small area. While this is not a problem in itself, it can allow disease to rapidly spread.
Of the common diseases, trichomoniasis, often known as canker (in pigeons) or frounce (in birds of prey) is a flagellate protozoa that lives in damp environments. In the environment, damp places such bird tables, feeders and baths represent the perfect place for the parasite to spread, while ‘damp’ areas within the bird, such as the mouth, crop, digestive tract and eyes are the perfect place for the parasite to take hold.

Pigeon with canker

Affected birds develop cheese-like growth that prevent them from eating and eventually cause starvation and while some birds develop a degree of immunity, it is often fatal. Pigeons and finches are very commonly infected due to their habit of feeding the young and their mates with regurgitated food.

    So what can we do to limit the spread of this horrid disease?

Firstly, it’s important to make sure all birds feeders are washed in a solution of bleach on a weekly basis. All feeders should be thoroughly rinsed and allowed to air dry – this drying kills any remaining trichomonads.
Should you notice many infected birds then it may be necessary to stop feeding your garden birds for a period of time to allow the infection to pass before starting once again.

The good news is that trichomoniasis is a treatable condition if found early and if you find an infected bird, it is best to contact a local wildlife rescue.

The tragic loss of Speckle the pigeon

A few weeks have now passed since the world learned of the sad passing of Speckle the pigeon and his mate, Miss Pretty.

While some may not understand why this news was so tragic, to many it was truly devastating. Speckle was no ordinary pigeon as through his public outreach and love of socialising in the pub, he helped change the perception many have about these beautiful, intelligent birds.

Speckle

Poor Speckle and Miss Pretty appeared to have succumbed to fumes from a neighbour’s house and there was nothing that their dedicated guardians could have done to prevent what happened. However, it highlights that all bird owners should be aware that bird are extremely sensitive to fumes, be that from household chemicals, cigarette smoke, and even non-stick cookware.

Cooking pans, drip trays and other cookware coated with Teflon, is not safe to use with birds in the vicinity. While under normal use Teflon is safe, if the pan overheats, such as if warming a dry pan or accidentally letting a pan boil dry, toxic fumes can be emitted.

Teflon can release fumes if allowed to get too hot

These polymer fumes can cause flu like symptoms in people, but quickly kills birds due to the extremely efficient way the bird respiratory system exchanges gasses from the air into the bloodstream and muscles. This efficiency is necessary for the high energy demand of flight, but means that any airborne toxins are rapidly absorbed, leading to toxicity.

While too late to save Speckle, we should all heed this warning, particularly those living in communal buildings, to make sure such a tragedy never happens again.