It was sad to find a chaffinch and a goldfinch both dead in the garden in mid-July. I had seen a few birds looking as if they had the disease that is rife, puffed up, lethargic and dribbling.
I try to keep the feeder stations clean by moving them around and also spraying with the recommended disinfectant after washing them, on a regualr basis. Maybe my cleaning regime had slipped a bit, or maybe it had come in from somewhere else as I had so many birds, especially finches, using the feeders.
It was even sadder then to find two more birds, both greenfinches, the following week, one actually on the bird table, with bits of seeds stuck to its beak. I decided I had no alternative but to stop feeding – for the sake of the birds themselves. At least it’s a good time of year for them to go out and find natural food. I will give it at least a month before putting the feeders back. I might even leave it till October as I have a holiday in September.
Two of the birds had leg rings, so I took the rings off and reported them online to the BTO. One was ringed by my friend in the village, the other I’m waiting to hear about. (Click ‘report a ring’ on the BTO website link right).
The number of birds in the garden has dropped off dramatically of course, but I still have blackbirds, blue and great tits coming in, and occasionally other things. One of the young robins has taken up residence and appears to be singing from the fence in the morning, which I think is quite precocious of him, and a wren jumps up from time to time to scold me from the fence. Grey and pied wagtails have been in the garden too, and we have a huge flock of mixed titmice and other birds inclduing goldcrest and chiffchaff that have been visiting the silver birches and fir trees at the back, so it’s not all bad news.