A Summer of Discontent

An Article by Mike Stentiford, MBE

 

WHILE we can all now reflect on the fact that few accolades or medals are likely to be awarded to the summer of 2011, we can, nevertheless, imagine the relief felt by the majority of our wildlife that the busy breeding season is now all done and dusted!

 

 

 

For our garden birds especially, the fickle weather of the summer months must have proved something of a challenge what with its devious change of direction from hot to cool and from drought to flood!

But there, being the ever resourceful little souls they are, most have come through with flying colours – and flying wings too I guess!

Of course, while it’s one thing dealing with all these traditional day-to-night commitments associated with bringing up a brood of hungry nestlings, keeping wings-length away from a host of avian viruses is quite another.

And, according to the experts, 2011 appears to have been a bit of a fitful year for certain birds picking up some rather nasty ailments.

One of these unpleasant and sadly fatal diseases has taken its toll on members of the finch family with greenfinches, in particular, bearing the brunt of the virus.

Blessed with the ticklish name of trichominous, it can best be described as a form of food poisoning transmitted through overcrowding at the bird feeders.

When we think of just how many comings and goings occur at the feeders during an average day, it isn’t surprising that there’s a hand-me-down list of avian nasties making the rounds.

Although it’s inevitable that such things are bound to occur, to a great extent we ourselves must share part of the blame when some of these viruses develop!

It’s all down to hygiene, of course, and it truly is surprising just how grubby a plastic feeder, a timber bird-table or a simple stonework bird bath can get in just a matter of a few weeks.

An occasional scrub with some warm and not too soapy water generally does the trick, not just with feeders but with nest-boxes as well.

A nesting box devoid of any TLC is very likely to affect its occupants – great tits in particular - with yet another unpleasant disease known as avian pox.

So, the word is love your birds – love your hygiene! It’s as simple as that!


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