The green finch – DWHC focus species in 2016

In 2016, the green finch was selected as the focus species of the Dutch Wildlife Health Centre (DWHC) and together with partner organisations we ask you to help us research this common garden bird by reporting findings of dead birds. to the DWHC.

The DWHC focus species program was set up in 2011 and aims to increase the number of submissions of a particular species in order to improve our knowledge about the general health status of populations of wildlife species in the Netherlands and to monitor the occurrence and distribution of particular diseases in these populations.

The green finch in focus

Trichomoniasis is a well-known cause of death in doves yet its appearance in green finches is a relatively recent development and has been associated with a sharp drop in green finch numbers in England (see BirdTrends), and in 2008, in Sweden. In England, a particularly pathogenic strain of the parasite was identified and has subsequently been seen in other Northern European countries. Recently trichomoniasis has also been identified as a cause of death in green finches submitted to the DWHC.

For this reason, the DWHC, in conjunction with SOVON (Dutch Organisation for Avian Research and Conservation), the Vogeltrekstation (Dutch Centre for Avian Migration and Demography), and the University of Utrecht are investigating the prevalence and distribution of Trichomonas in finch populations (with a focus on the green finch) in the Netherlands as well as population dynamics of this bird species. Additionally researchers will attempt to identify which strain or strains of this parasite occur in green finches in the Netherlands. To date it is believed that Trichomonas has had minimal impact on these populations and in order to monitor the situation the Dutch public have been asked to submit finches to the DWHC for post-mortem investigation.

Hygiene for garden birds

Daily cleaning of bird baths and feeders is recommended to minimise the risk of an infectious hub developing. During an outbreak feeding should be stopped.

Help us by reporting dead green finches and other types of finch

You can report finding dead finches on the submission form on our website. For microscopic examination of these birds it is essential that the cadavers are in a fresh state i.e. not dead for more than one day; cadavers should not be frozen. It is therefore preferable to report dead birds as soon as possible and to keep the cadaver in a cool (not frozen) place until it can be collected. After submitting your form you will be contacted by the DWHC who will advise you on how to package the cadaver and arrange collection of the packaged bird from your home or place of work.

Photo banner: Dick Pasman