An Unwanted Winter Visitor.
Trichomonosis has emerged in the Atlantic region in late December 2020, which has taken wildlife experts by surprise. The disease is caused by the protozoan parasite Trichomonas gallinae which infects the mucosal lining of the oral cavity and upper digestive tract of a variety of bird species including pigeons, raptors, and small passerines.
Most common during the summer months, this disease infects purple finches, American goldfinches and pine siskins resulting in necrosis and inflammation of the upper digestive tract leading to severe debilitation, emaciation, and death. Affected birds are often easily approached, have puffed up feathers, appear to be gagging, and have wet food material adhered to the feathers and beak.
The Atlantic node of the CWHC has received a large number of reports of sick song birds in our region during late winter and early spring of 2021 which is very unusual for the region. Since the CWHC has implemented their new online reporting tool (http://cwhc.wildlifesubmissions.org/), we have received numerous reports of sick songbirds in this manner. We also continue to receive phone calls and emails from concerned citizens who have observed sick birds on their properties. Several cases that occurred during the winter were submitted to the CWHC for necropsy and all were confirmed to be cases of Trichomonosis. We are recommending that feeders be removed to prevent further spread of the disease and advise that the public may consider ceasing all anthropogenic feeding of wildlife in general, in order to prevent animal interactions and to reduce the spread of disease.
For more information on this disease, where it has been detected and how to prevent it, please see our website, http://www.cwhc-rcsf.ca/trichomonosis.php
Submitted by Darlene Weeks and Laura Bourque, CWHC Atlantic