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Old Thursday 19th March 2009, 12:06   #1
boxer95
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I am finding dead finches all over my yard!

I live in Asheville NC and we are big bird lovers and feeders. we keep our birds very happy with lots of great bird seed! the past week I have found 9 dead birds in my yard they are all small finches. I am very sad about this. I am wondering if I have some sort of disease going around. I have noticed that the finches will sit on my feeders all puffed up and they look kinda sickly, and they often don't fly away when I approach them. It is pretty apparent something is wrong. Now we did have a cold spell 2 weeks ago where we got snow and it was down right cold, like 19" but I thought they would survive it and this is recent so I am wondering if it was the cold weather are they tender? I am so sad to be finding dead birds all over the yard. it really upsets me. But What can I do? I am going to clean my feeders really good this weekend but anything else I can do?
I have 3 dogs and they have also been finding them and bringing me little gifts that are not so pretty UM YAH its awful what they find and carry on in through the dog door last week it was a squirrel. ( on my bed)!

thanks so much for your insight.
Lisa
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Old Thursday 19th March 2009, 12:10   #2
DaveN
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Sounds like Trichomoniasis which is a big problem here in the UK. It has killed thousands of finches. Have a look at this.

http://www.rspb.org.uk/advice/helpin...eenfinches.asp
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Old Thursday 19th March 2009, 12:26   #3
boxer95
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Hi Dave I think your right on! We have not cleaned our feeders for awhile and I plan on doing that this weekend. do I use bleach? how does one clean them. I will have to do it in my bath tub and than really clean it with cleanser and bleach afterwards. I am so devastated over this. I love my birdie friends so much. They bring me so much joy. I have wood peckers galore and we now have attracted the harry woodpecker, we have several pileated wood peckers that come right up to our windows. Red bellies, and Downy's too, also the red headed wood peckers also come. We also have blue birds galore and I am wating for the indigo buntings that come in the spring...

thanks for the article.
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Old Thursday 19th March 2009, 12:36   #4
DaveN
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boxer95 View Post
Hi Dave I think your right on! We have not cleaned our feeders for awhile and I plan on doing that this weekend. do I use bleach? how does one clean them. I will have to do it in my bath tub and than really clean it with cleanser and bleach afterwards. I am so devastated over this. I love my birdie friends so much. They bring me so much joy. I have wood peckers galore and we now have attracted the harry woodpecker, we have several pileated wood peckers that come right up to our windows. Red bellies, and Downy's too, also the red headed wood peckers also come. We also have blue birds galore and I am wating for the indigo buntings that come in the spring...

thanks for the article.
Lisa, have a look at this link. It is very informative.
http://birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=67323
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Old Friday 20th March 2009, 02:10   #5
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No disrespect - but take down any feeders that these birds are using. Also (if you have a pile of husks/goo/fungal stuff on the groud ---- clean that up and disenfect. This disease (among others) hits out here too. Let the birds clear out............
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Old Friday 20th March 2009, 13:31   #6
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Abandoning feeding altogether is perhaps a little drastic. However you do want to eliminate all traces of possible disease. Recommend you get new feeders if possible; failing that, clean and disinfect thoroughly. Re-hang them in a different part of the yard and (As Chris says) clean up and disinfect the area of ground under where the feeders used to be - even at the temporary expense of some lawn.

From now on, refill and clean the feeders at least weekly. (It suddenly dawned on me one week that I can clean feeders in the dishwasher! Saves ages and does a good job)

Even if the seed is not used up, discard and replace with fresh. You soon learn to estimate how much to put in.

Seems like a lot of work, but anything less is damaging, not helping, your local birds.

Last edited by pianoman : Friday 20th March 2009 at 13:33.
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Old Friday 20th March 2009, 16:17   #7
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Pianoman, When you say "disinfect the ground under the feeders" do you mean to just hose it down with water? Or is there something else that can be used.

I'd also think that removing the feeders for awhile would let any sick birds disperse so they wouldn't re-infect the area or any new arrivals.
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Old Friday 20th March 2009, 16:31   #8
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There was also a recent recall of Wild Birds unlimited birdfood (infected with Salmonella) in the states:

http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/4707750/

I heard of this affecting NC birders, so it very well might be the problem
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Old Friday 20th March 2009, 23:25   #9
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Originally Posted by Guinness537 View Post
Pianoman, When you say "disinfect the ground under the feeders" do you mean to just hose it down with water? Or is there something else that can be used.

I'd also think that removing the feeders for awhile would let any sick birds disperse so they wouldn't re-infect the area or any new arrivals.
Well, I mean a weak solution of an ordinary houshold disinfectant. Mainly aimed at Streptococcus rather than Tricho. I don't mean every week, but it seems that in this case a rather bad mess has built up. Disinfectant browns a patch of lawn for a few weeks but it soon recovers.
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Old Friday 20th March 2009, 23:59   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinness537 View Post
Pianoman, When you say "disinfect the ground under the feeders" do you mean to just hose it down with water? Or is there something else that can be used.

I'd also think that removing the feeders for awhile would let any sick birds disperse so they wouldn't re-infect the area or any new arrivals.
Actually there are several problems with removing feeding altogether with any disease outbreak, far better to retain feeding in these areas not only because these birds will be reliant on this food source but also by ceasing feeding, birds will disperse more widely, spreading the disease over a wider area.

Avian trichomoniasis (if it is this? - could be range of infectious diseases) generally is short lived out of the infected host and therefore if the area is cleaned and enough food is put out for a couple of days (rather than large piles of food) this would normally be sufficient to reduce infection transmission.

Also worth noting that some bird food manufacturers (generally not the case in the UK with industry standards) do have sub standard feed, and often as a result these can contain mycotoxins which can be poisonous to birds.

Avian trichomoniasis developed initially in Columbiformes, however as the disease has been able to mutate and leap the species gap, sparrows, finches and even birds of prey are now susceptible. One of the biggest causalities of this disease in the UK has been the Greenfinch.


More information can be sought from the Garden Bird Health Initiative, which is sponsored by industry leaders and the RSPB to research and promote remedies for garden bird diseases.


http://www.ufaw.org.uk/gbhi.php
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Old Saturday 21st March 2009, 00:10   #11
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I would also mention that the cold weather normally reduces outbreaks avian trichomoniasis, so I'd suggest it possibly isn't that - but worth taken the hygiene measures as good practice.

Maybe as simple as the effect of cold weather (if the birds were gasping / gaping as well that could be a symptom of Trich). The information regarding the squirrel is interesting as well as trichomoniasis does not effect mammals. The mystery may be a simple result of cold weather conditions (although 9 birds is a very signifcant 'die-off'). So please keep feeding not only during this critical time but also to avoid any transmission over wider areas.
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Old Saturday 21st March 2009, 00:17   #12
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I've had three sick finches this winter that I noticed but I they had "House Finch Disease"
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Old Saturday 21st March 2009, 00:30   #13
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I've had three sick finches this winter that I noticed but I they had "House Finch Disease"
Which is essentially mycoplasmal conjunctivitis in House Finches, but has also been recorded in Grosbeaks and Goldfinches.

This disease doesn't cause direct mortality.
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Old Saturday 21st March 2009, 02:30   #14
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Poor finches.

It never ceases to amaze me how our well-intentioned interactions with wildlife can have unintended results. I do hope you will contact the Garden Bird Health Initiative so they can see how widespread this problem is. I wonder if this kind of thing is like tent caterpillar infestations, and whether or not in the wild these parasites have a cyclic appearance.

Best of luck with your feeding situation.
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Old Saturday 21st March 2009, 15:38   #15
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Lose the feeders now! There is a local disease going around. Clean everything with bleacxh water.
Source-Mountain Times in Sylva.
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Old Monday 23rd March 2009, 22:29   #16
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by loosing the feeders you will no doubt spread the infection over a wider area, due to birds becoming more nomadic in search of food. If the precautions are used as I stated in an earlier post, then the spread of infection can be minimised.

Actually birds have always carried various diseases and these are often transmitted at sites with food super abundance (which includes feeding stations). Trichomoniasis is a relatively new disease in finches (but well documented in Columbiformes) and is probably having more of an impact on population due to warm and damp climatic conditions over the winter in the UK as a period of cold weather often reduces the spread of the disease.

Simply put these diseases are being observed more due to the rapid increase in the bird care industry / people feeding in gardens etc.

The GBHi only operates in the UK.
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Old Thursday 26th March 2009, 01:57   #17
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Exclamation

Sorry I was in a hurry the other day!
There is a disease going around here, it got a write-up in the Smoky Mountain News, Don Hendershot may have been the author. The bird store in Waynesville also put up an ad about it.

The disease is killing finches, and is really rough on siskins. It is spread by bird droppings. The best thing to do is to clean out the feeders with bleachwater, and wait until the finches in question have changed territories.

It hasn't hit me down in Cullowhee, I'm cleaning my feeder every other day anyhow. Asheville has it bad?
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