Greenfinch juvenile or possibly adult with case of trichomoniasis?

The past few days we've had this little guy visiting our garden. It is a completely new species for us but we are torn between excitement and concern. At first glance we thought it may be a juvenile greenfinch (pale green on back between wings) as we've had juvenile robins in the past who exhibit similar behaviour. It is quite relaxed around us unless we get too close, then it flies to the bushes or hops away.

However it's eyes often seem less than fully open and the first couple day it appeared it seemed to be having trouble eating. It looked as though it had a spider web caught around its beak which it was trying to get off and kept trying to eat broken up corn pieces without success. It was getting in finch seed (the small round seeds) and we think quite a few insects, and had a drink from the water pot. A few times over the past few days it has opened its mouth like those with trichomoniasis but not more than a few times. 

We have cleaned up all ground feed and water, and removed the feeders for now as we are concerned it may not be a juvenile but a case of trich, but wanted to see if anyone had any suggestions? We've never had a greenfinch before, let alone a juvenile, so we don't know if it's a particularly messy young one or an adult of another type with the parasite.

I've attached two photos for any identification help. Any help would be greatly suggested!

Thank you!


  • Hi AoifeO,
    It's not a Greenfinch, it's an adult female Chaffinch. As it so lethargic it may well be sick and Trich is a possibility especially as you have seen food stuck around its beak. I don't think there's much you can do to help it although Forum member Hazy who has had experience of birds affected in her garden may be able to offer advice.



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  • Hi Aoife,

    As Tony says, it is an adult female Chaffinch.    Typical Trichomonosis symptoms (also known as Canker)  include the symptoms you pointed out with lethargy, difficulty eating and the need to drink frequently as their gullet becomes blocked with the Trich parasite that makes it difficult for the bird to swallow and thus the bird dies of starvation rather than the actual parasite itself.  We saw several cases of it in our last garden and you have done absolutely the right thing to remove the feeders and a main source for transference is also water dishes, etc.. and clean the area.      Finches in particular are prone to this disease although it is seen in other species.    The bird often appears fluffed up with damp looking plumage and have food bits stuck around their beak.    Unfortunately, there is not much you can do for the bird as these antiprotozoal medicines available are not very successful in smaller birds due to the strength of the medicine itself on a smaller size bird.     I have taken a few birds for treatment over the years but sadly none survived despite best efforts and eventually when you are able to catch the bird all you can do is ask a local vet or wildlife hospital to euthanise the bird to save it suffering any longer.    Usually, by the time you spot this disease in a bird it is often too late to help it;   .   The danger comes when a bird tries to feed and regurgitates the food or water -   it can expel the trich parasite/s  which another bird may pick up from eating that regurgitated food, hence it can spread from one bird to another.      

    There are other health problems such as salmonella which could be another cause but once a bird is able to be caught you can often tell if it is trich when you look in the throat/ gullet    which a vet can do.    Remember to use disposable gloves if you handle a sick bird and as we are all currently doing -  wash your hands thoroughly.    

    I'm sorry about the poor Chaffinch,   it is upsetting to see poorly birds in the garden but you have done the correct thing of removing the food and water source and cleaning the area best you can.    

    If you want to read up more about Trich and other diseases then I will put a LINK HERE  which gives different diseases including Trichomonosis

    another LINK HERE


    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • Thank you to you both for the information. Sadly we suspected this was the case but didn't want to give up hope! This is the first chaffinch we've ever had to the garden too, it's awful its not a happy ending. We haven't seen her yet today so I suppose that is good news for our other birds. We have a very healthy (and competitive) group of goldfinches, as well as a few other species, so hopefully everything we've done will keep them safe.

    Thank you again for the informtion. At least now I'll know what to look for if it appears again in the garden. Have a lovely weekend!

  • Well done Carrie for what you have done and hopefully you will see no more sick birds. You have a good weekend too despite the restrictions.


    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again"