Monday, 12 March 2018

Biting the Hand That Feeds?


A number of concerns have been raised by studies on garden bird feeders in British locations (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/12/garden-bird-feeders-help-spread-disease-among-wild-birds). It is suggested that foods should be allowed to run out every 2-3 days; only items from reliable sources be put in the feeders (and these be varied); the locations of feeders should be periodically changed and the feeders should be routinely disinfected. The concerns appear to be related to these devices encouraging species, that would not normally interact, to contact each other with an augmenting of the spread of disease. It is suggested, for example, in the covering article, that the dramatic (35%) decline in the number of UK Green finches (Carduelis chloris) is largely due to the transmission of a protozoan parasite that causes finch trichomonosis. It certainly may be a good idea to disinfect feeders on a regular basis but I am not convinced that this finch decline is solely down to garden feeder-related transmission of parasites (environmental change;  habitat loss and predators may all play roles). Feeders are, I feel, generally a 'good thing' and it would be a pity if people were put off placing and stocking them.

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