Hello, I noticed a chaffinch at our feeder today. It was a lot fatter looking than the other ones but was still foraging on the ground and eating dropped seeds. I have read about trichomonosis so this was my first thought but it did not seem to have any food stuck to its beak and was managing the seeds ok. I did manage to walk up fairly close to it before it flew away. My question is whether this is a sick chaffinch or a baby? I have googled pictures of baby chaffinch and its fluffed up appearance does look very similar, but then trichomonosis also makes them fluffy. There were no seeds stuck around its beak and plummage was dry.
I am happy to go ahead and remove my feeders to be safe but I just want to check if anyone has seen healthy baby chaffinches at their feeder and what they might look like? And act like?
*edit* I have managed to get a picture which is attached. I’ve taken down my feeders as a precaution
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Hello I managed to get a few
Hi ZP, as Tony says there isn't enough obvious signs to detect where this bird is very sick but it could very well be Trichomonas which is more common in finches and would present itself similarly. The bird appears to be fluffed up and if you are able to get close to it without it flying away then that is another indication this bird is very sick. Often by the time you are able to capture a sick bird it is too late to help it and Trichomonas is virtually impossible to treat in small garden birds as the medicine required is too strong for their size. A good indication of Trichomonas is that the bird will need to drink frequently; the parasite blocks the gullet and the birds find it hard to swallow, you may see it trying to work any seed down the gullet but struggling to swallow. If you are able to open the birds beak you will see yellowy cheesy looking bits in the back of the throat which is the parasite. Birds do not die directly from the parasite itself but from the resulting starvation. I would suggest if you see the chaffinch drinking frequently then it is very important to remove all water dishes and seed/feeders from the garden (I would remove them for at least three weeks) as the problem with Trichomonas is that it can spread amongst birds as the infected bird regurgitates seed or water with the parasite in it which another bird can pick up by eating the regurgitated food off the feeder or ground. Hopefully, your chaffinch may recover; there are so many different things it could be from catting to colliding with a window to one of the various bird diseases such as Trich or salmonella. Fingers crossed this little bird recovers in time but if you are able to pick it up then it may need taking to a local wildlife hospital or vet to save it suffering further.
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Thank you that information is very helpful. The bird was slow to fly away and let me come close but did fly away when it noticed me definitely more slow than the other birds.
It’s very heartbreaking to see a potentially sick bird and there is nothing I can do to help. It does make me think maybe garden bird feeding is doing more harm than good overall. I do always clean my feeders when refilling seeds so a few times a week and it’s all hanging feeders which I think are more hygenic. However the chaffinches do tend to forage in the grass under them next to wood pigeons etc so I guess despite best efforts it’s hard to avoid close contact with other birds. Would feel terrible to think I have contributed to disease spread I really wish there was something more we could all do? I’ve taken down my feeders cleaned and put away for at least 3 weeks. If I am honest I don’t know if I can continue to feed the garden birds as it’s too heartbreaking when you consider disease spread around feeders and being unable to do anything when you do see a sick bird
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