Avian Pox Takes Hold in British Birds
Bird conservationists have called on the British public to aid in its efforts to track and halt the spread of avian pox, a virus which has spread through many garden birds – particularly great tits – over the last few years. The first case was found in 2006 in a single great tit and since then has spread. Avian pox leads to tumour-like growths on birds, especially around their eyes and their beaks. It is known to have mild effects on a wide range of British birds such as the dunnock, house sparrow, starling and the wood pigeon. However, it is much worse for great tits – causing very large lesions that can interfere with their abilities to see or fly. The virus can spread via insect bites or direct contact between birds. It can also be spread through indirect contact via places where birds congregate such as perches or bird feeders in gardens. Conservationists recommend that anyone with bird tables or feeders keep these areas disinfected. If you see any signs of avian pox in the birds in your garden, call the RSPB Wildlife Enquiries Unit on 01767 693690.