A woman from Hammonds Plains, Nova Scotia, filmed a bird who appeared sick. The footage reached the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative (CWHC), commenting that this is a case of trichomonosis, a parasitic disease.
CWHC spread the video to inform the public what to look for when they see birds acting like that. Veterinarian Dr. Megan Jones is an assistant professor at the Atlantic Veterinary College and director of the Atlantic branch of the CWHC. She explains:
“What the bird is exhibiting in the video is it’s sort of gaping its mouth. You can imagine it might be having difficulty swallowing, it looks like it’s having difficulty breathing even. This parasite infects their throat and so it causes tissues to swell up.”
Jones added that the bird’s feathers are wet around its beak “because it could be some saliva coming out of there and some food material may be stuck on there and just sort of in general it looks disheveled and is breathing rapidly.”
She added that these are the symptoms a bird with trichomonosis would show. These birds often die because they cannot feed or the infection is too serious. Jones warns to prevent the disease from spreading by putting away the backyard bird feeders and watering, as they attract a large number of birds and make other sick. Jones explains that the bird in the video did not reach the lab to see if she was infected with the parasite, but it “was exhibiting symptoms, clinical signs that are very, very suspicious for trichomonosis.”
Plant Some Native Plants and Put Away the Bird Feeder
Jones urges people that find dead birds to contact CWHC office. So far, the disease was found in Atlantic Canada, Ontario and Quebec.
The parasite is not a threat to humans or dogs and cats. It will only affect birds, so they can also be a threat to poultry and pet birds if they become infected with the parasite.
Jones added that for people that enjoy feeding birds in their yard to hear their songs, they don’t need a bird feeder: “lots of times you can still attract birds to your yard with native plants and that sort of thing. You can still enjoy birds without having bird feeders out.”
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere