Four main causes of death in green finches

The green finch was selected as the focus species of the Dutch Wildlife Health Centre (DWHC) for 2016.

During the the first quarter 16 dead finches, both green finches and other species of finch, were reported and 12 (nine green finches, two siskins and a goldfinch) were submitted for post-mortem investigation.

Cause of death

Four different diseases were identified as having caused the death of the nine green finches. Six green finches died of Trichomonas infection (this includes some provisional results which are yet to be confirmed by PCR testing);  in the remaining birds, infection with Yersinia, Avipoxvirus or Salmonella was identified as the cause of death.  Both siskins had evidence of fatal trauma and in the goldfinch the cause of death was not determined due to the advanced state of decomposition.

The trichomonas-infected green finches had either a yellowish pasty material in the crop or showed inflammation of the crop. These signs are not unique to Trichomonas infection which can only be confirmed by further testing. Indeed, the green finches that died from infection with Avipoxviurs or Yersinia respectively showed crop inflammation or a yellowy paste in the crop.

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 and, in 2008, in Sweden. 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. 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.

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.