Has anyone noticed Great Tits with tumours or growths?

Hi - this is my first post and I've unsuccessfully tried to search the forums for anything else related to this - so apologies if it's been covered elsewhere! 

Over the last month or so, I've noticed a Great Tit on the peanut feeders in our garden and (without being able to get close enough to see exactly) I've noticed that it appeared to have a red growth of some kind on the side of it's face.  I've never been able to see it exactly, because by the time I get the binoculars it has always flown away!  It seems to be flying and feeding as normal.   I've only ever seen the one tit with the growth, so just put it down to maybe a birth defect or something in that particular tit.

However, now I'm a bit worried.  Today I came across a freshly dead great tit in the garden - full sized, not looking scraggy or underfed or anything, but with very large growths under the skin all around it's beak and throat.  The worrying thing is that it wasn't the same tit I've been seeing, as the growths weren't red at all - they are all under the skin.

Is this some kind of new disease that I can do anything about, like the trich..(can't spell it!) that the finches get (we had that last year and had to take all the feeders away for weeks - and now I'm scrupulous about hygiene on the feeders).  Or is it the same disease, maybe?   All of the other birds that I see every day on the feeders (we have lots of goldfinches, greenfinches, great tits, blue tits and chaffinches mainly) all look ok, but I'm really worried that it's something contagious.

The tit was very freshly dead - if it would help with identifying it, I can get it out of the bin and send a photo of it?

Again, apologies if this has already been covered, and for my first post being a bit grim - but it has got me worried!  Hopefully someone more knowledgeable than me can shed some light for me.

  • hi vuff welcome to the forum, certainly a bit different from the usual intro!:0)) i dont know the answer but rest assured someone will, have fun on here. paul.

  • In reply to paul:

    Hi vuff. Welcome from me too.  I can't help with an answer, I'm afraid, but I'm bumping you back to the top to give some of more experienced birders a chance to see your question.  A sad start as you say, but I hope you enjoy the forum.

  • Hi Vuff,

    We've had several threads about this problem, which seems to be on the increase. In a nutshell, it's (probably) a form of avian pox (a viral disease) which has been complicated by a bacterial infection in the pox warts. The Universities Federation for Animal Welfare has produced a fact-sheet about it - http://www.ufaw.org.uk/documents/GBHiavianpoxfactsheetNov09.pdf. The RSPB would like you to report any instances of disease in garden birds using the 'garden bird disease recording form', which you can download from this page (on the right) - http://www.rspb.org.uk/advice/helpingbirds/health/sickbirds/greenfinches.aspx

    My blog: http://mazzaswildside.blogspot.co.uk/

    My Flickr page: https://www.flickr.com/photos/124028194@N04/

  • In reply to aiki:

    a could this be the same problem aiki?

  • In reply to paul:

    Paul, I don't see any growths on your Chaffinch's head, just baldness. That could be caused by some kind of skin parasite, or even just a heavy moult.

    My blog: http://mazzaswildside.blogspot.co.uk/

    My Flickr page: https://www.flickr.com/photos/124028194@N04/

  • Hi there! I'ce recently noticed exactly the same thing! I was watching the birds on the feeders in my back garden and first saw a Great tit with a rather large growth on the top of his leg... I put this down to maybe a birth defect just like you! And then, as i was watching out for it again, i noticed yet another with a large red growth on his face. This began to worry me, i then saw two more with the same problem, one bird seemed really scrawny and dirty as the growth was very large on the one side of his face and he was definitley having trouble feeding. If it is avian pox what can we do to prevent it spreading?! I've cleaned the bird tables and feeders, but heard that it can spread to other species such as dunnocks? Thankyou for posting this! :-) 

  • Today 22/9/2020 I have noticed two Great Tits with the same growth at my bird table. I have many birds visiting such at Nuthatch, blue tits, Woodpecker etc. Can it be passed on to other birds?
  • Hi Singo,      it sounds like Avian Pox and yes it can be passed on to other birds.  HERE is some more information about this disease.  Great Tits seem to be affected in particular from this disease.   As you have seen two birds with the pox it is best to remove and feeders, water dish, etc., to give the garden birds chance to disperse.     Unlike the disease of Trichomonas birds can recover from Avian Pox, it is not necessary a death sentence for them.     Even severe cases can recover.    

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    Regards, Hazel 

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