The unpredictable weather seems to be having quite an effect on the quantity of birds visiting the garden feeders at the moment. Numbers have steadily been picking up over the past month and just before Christmas I noticed a couple of interesting visitors to one of the feeders on the HD Live Cam.
The unusually mild weather means there is still an abundance of natural food around. Berries are clinging to the bushes for dear life and there is even the odd bug flying around. Add downpours of almost biblical proportions and tree crunching gales and its no wonder the bird feeders seem a little quieter than usual.
I keep a close eye on the feeders all year round and regularly see some amazing sights. Just before Christmas I noticed a couple of interesting visitors. Check out the short video clip below and you’ll see some of the most regular visitors, Goldfinches. Watch the young Goldfinch feeding on the left side of the feeder and see if you can spot the ring on its left leg. Unfortunately its too small to pick out any detail so no way of finding out where it was ringed.
Noisy squabbling usually ensues when the Chaffinches arrive. Occasionally I spot a male with crusty white legs. This is most likely something called Chaffinch Viral Papilloma.
A little more about viral papilloma…
Chaffinch viral papilloma is specific to Chaffinches only. Although it looks unsightly and is undoubtedly an irritation to the bird concerned, it is rarely the cause of demise for the bird. The papilloma has low contagiousness and birds need a close contact with each other for the infection to be passed on. This is probably why it is often seen in clusters. Its believed that a bird needs a cut or a scratch on its foot for the disease to enter and infect it.
There is no cure for this kind of skin infection in wild birds. There are a couple of things we can do however to help minimise the risk of infection. First, make sure there are no sharp edges on the feeders. Secondly and probably most importantly, hygiene at the feeders is of paramount importance! Make sure you regularly clean your feeders at least once a month, more often if your feeders are particularly busy.
Hot water and a scrubbing brush are the order of the day. Don’t forget to wear rubber gloves yourself and don’t clean your feeders in the kitchen or other food preparation area.