What should I do if I have sick wild birds in my garden?


Have you seen sick wild birds in your garden? Especially ones who are lethargic, unusually tame seeming or fluffed up? Then you need to take action.

The most likely cause of sick wild birds is trichomoniasis. Thich is a parasite that causes lesions in the affected bird’s throat, making it difficult for it to swallow. Eventually, the bird dies because the lesions affect its ability to breathe. These birds often also have saliva and uneaten food stuck to their beaks and fronts.

Finches – goldfinches, greenfinches, and chaffinches – seem to be the most susceptible to this parasite, but it can affect any bird. It doesn’t pass to humans, cats or dogs.

Other diseases can include salmonellae, outbreaks of which can also be helped by following the advice below.

To stop the spread of disease, you should immediately stop providing food and water for the birds for a few weeks.

This is because a bird feeding or drinking station is a breeding ground for the bacteria – healthy birds may get ill from sharing a food source with sick birds.

To prevent initial infection, or reinfection, keep your bird feeders clean. Because you’ll have to regularly clean the feeders it’s worth buying ones that are easy to take apart and clean thoroughly. Feeders such as Jacobi Jayne Ring Pull work well. I’ve thrown away more feeders than I can count simply because I couldn’t clean them properly. The Ring Pull ones are the best I’ve found to solve this. Take them apart, scrub every part with disinfectant, then thoroughly dry them before refilling them. You can even put the tubes through the dishwasher if you’re feeling very lazy…!

Also ensure that the feeder area is not contaminated.

Bird faeces and saliva can both carry disease, so the ideal solution is to have a flat concrete pad below the feeder. This makes it easy to sweep up regularly and scrub it when needed. The other benefit to this is that you can see if birds are wasting food and clear up anything that’s not being eaten. This reduces the risk of rodents blagging free meals from you. If you are getting a lot of wasted food, try a different seed mix which is more suited to the birds you have in your garden. Many seed mixes are filled with cheap wheat and barley, which small birds are not interested in. Try a value mix like Island Harvest, or a premium mix such as Garden Gourmet.

If a concrete base isn’t an option, try to rotate where your feeder is sited. This helps stop any infection from building up. The trichomoniasis parasite doesn’t live long outside of the host, so will die if there are no birds to pass on to.

Finally, for your own health remember to wash your hands after feeding sick wild birds or touching the feeders.

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Quick guide to choosing the best Wood Fuel for your stove and lifestyle.

Wood Fuel Co-operative

*Break - We strongly recommend you break these briquettes in half (or less for very small stoves) because they do expand whilst burning and you don't want them to overfill the fire.
*Easy to light - We always use a Firelighter and Kindling Sticks to start our fires. Most briquettes are graded four stars to light because they are quite dense and require kindling.


  • All stove and flue combinations tend to have different burning characteristics. Fuel that works well in my stove may not work so well in your stove, and vice-versa.
  • Most modern stoves are more efficient than most older stoves, meaning a modern quality stove will burn fuel more economically and generate more heat over a longer period.
  • Always try to burn fuel with a 'lick of flame'. Smouldering fuel to try to extend burn time is bad for your stove, flue and the environment due to unburned particulate matter in the smoke.
  • Be prepared to break briquettes into smaller sections to fit into your stove comfortably. Many briquettes do expand whilst burning and you don't want them to expand onto the glass.
  • The chart above indicates which briquettes are easy to break. Some are small enough so they don't need breaking. This makes for a cleaner environment around your stove.
  • All briquettes, except Everyday Value and Hotmax, benefit hugely from using kindling to light them. I suggest five kindling sticks will be sufficient, meaning a net should last 30 days.