Some may protest this isn't a sustag issue...but I haven't yet
visited a farm that hasn't had its bird feeders. And there's not much
here that will surprise poultry folk.
The /Salmonella/ connection I thought might interest some of you.
I've been watching ProMED for report of diseases that jump
species--you may already know that one of the reservoirs for
influenza strains is ducks. Just a thought, all.
(flu-free since 1991)
BIRD TABLES, RISKS OF POOR HYGIENE
A ProMED-mail post
From: GPHIN 20 Jan 1999
Date: Tue 19 Jan 1999
Keeping bird tables piled high with nuts, bread and dripping could
be killing birds with kindness, according to a team of researchers.
They say that overcrowded tables are rife with salmonella and E coli,
diseases fatal to birds. The three-year study found further danger
in the stress triggered by scrabbling for food among a flock of
hungry birds which can also kill species such as the chaffinch and
Encouraging the congregation of large numbers of birds in a small
area, sometimes for prolonged periods, is likely to result in heavy
microbiological contamination of the feeding stations,' the team
from the Scottish Agricultural College in Ayrshire reports in the
scientific journal Veterinary Record. 'The small amount of feeding
space available to each bird leads to aggressive behaviour and male
dominance at the feeding stations, stressing the birds and
increasing their susceptibility to infectious disease.
The study based on the examination of the bodies of 116 birds found
in gardens with bird tables, found that 9 out of 10 died from the
bacteria _E. coli_ 086, or a strain of _Salmonella_. These
infectious diseases may then infect other species of wild birds in
the vicinity. There is a possible threat to human health, but neither
of these particular bacterial strains is found in humans.
Greenfinches and chaffinches are thought to be most at risk during
the struggles for food. House sparrows, blue tits, pigeons and doves
are also vulnerable to diseases spread through droppings. Many of the
infected birds die from lung or liver disease, while others become
weak and are an easy target for hungry cats.
Geoff Foster, one of the authors of the report, said: 'What could be
happening is that the bird tables are bringing together birds that
are carrying agents causing infection and the bird table provides the
potential for the spread of the disease. 'The bird tables certainly
create a focal point for the infection to transfer.'
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds [RSPB] warned against
abandoning the age-old tradition of feeding birds in winter. Instead
they urged nature lovers to make their tables more hygienic by
clearing up old food and removing droppings.
Spokesman Chris Harbard said: 'We would certainly advise people to
continue to feed birds in their gardens. By offering these birds
food we are offering them a chance to survive that they would not
otherwise have. What we would advise people to do is treat bird
tables as an eating place and keep them as clean and tidy as
possible. The problems are probably caused when people put a lot of
food in the one place. This will attract a lot of birds to the one
place and if the birds are carrying something it will spread.'
Although birds are most at risk from starvation in February and
March, the RSPB recommends year-round feeding.
Experts suggest that instead of piling up food on one large table,
bird lovers could leave out smaller amounts of food in several
locations around the garden. Hanging bird feeders full of nuts,
mixed seed and bread from trees can also cut down on the spread of
Bird tables and feeders should be moved around the garden regularly,
while the water in bird baths needs to be changed daily. And to
lower the risk of bacteria spreading to people, rubber gloves should
be worn when handling and cleaning feeders.
Michele Gale-Sinex, communications manager
Center for Integrated Ag Systems
UW-Madison College of Ag and Life Sciences
Voice: (608) 262-8018 FAX: (608) 265-3020
On the Borscht Scale, zero being NO BORSCHT and
10 being BORSCHT-O-PLENTY, I give them a big zero.
Keep in mind that I don't like borscht, so zero
is good. --Mister 3D
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