The latest results from the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch are in and there is good news: greenfinch numbers are up.
Greenfinch populations have crashed by 63% in the three decades since 1993, largely as the result of a severe and prolonged outbreak of trichomonosis in the early part of the 21st century. Last year the RSPB put the species on its red list, indicating that it is at risk. In the reserve, they have become a real rarity.
This year, however, the RSPB’s citizen scientists recorded an increase in greenfinch sightings and there are hopes that the species is recovering.
Trichomonosis, sometimes called fat finch disease, is spread through contaminated food and drinking water, or by infected birds feeding their mates or their nestlings with contaminated food during the breeding season. It is believed to be easily spread between birds at garden bird feeding stations
If you see a sick greenfinch in your garden, you can help to slow the transmission of this deadly disease by temporarily removing your bird feeders; fewer birds will mean fewer opportunities for the disease to spread. Routinely rotate the position of feeders to prevent the build up of possibly contaminated food on or in the ground below. Clean feeders regularly, clear away food that has been spilled and empty and dry bird baths daily.
Here is a video of a greenfinch sick with Trichomonosis; not pleasant viewing but it will help us to identify any sick birds in our gardens so that we can act quickly to prevent the infection from spreading any further and doing even more damage than it has already done.