Save the Songbirds
According to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, there are currently 543 plant and animal species at risk in Canada.
There are health threats to wildlife in Canada and worldwide, with spill over to people and domestic animals, but Canada has been ahead of the pack in planning, preparedness and active stewardship of wildlife health.
Work Done So Far
Wild finches in Europe are suffering significant declines due to a new fatal, parasitic disease called ‘trichomonosis’. This disease has already killed more than half a million of these birds. Recently, the CCWHC wildlife health surveillance program discovered that trichomonosis is causing slow, painful death in native finches on Canada’s east coast. Now we are using Citizen Science in the Maritimes to track the potential spread of this disease, as well as performing research to determine which actions can be taken to slow its spread and reduce its impact. Proper management of bird feeders may be the key to maintaining good health in the face of trichomonosis. We are using the best available science to determine what can be done, and more Citizen Science to determine which actions will be most effective.
Trichomonosis has the potential to spread completely across Canada and the rest of North America as well. What effects will it have on song birds and what can be done to protect birds from this new disease?
To answer these questions we must quickly study the infection in Canada where it appears to have only recently arrived. We need to determine the precise characteristics of the new disease-causing parasite using the best molecular scientific tools. We also need to compare our results with events and studies happening in Europe.
It is necessary that we expand our vigilance for this infection in song birds across Canada. This means recruiting the participation of the bird-feeding public to keep watch for signs of the disease and collect dead birds for examination. We must also expand our capacity to examine song birds for trichomonosis as well as other diseases.
Diseases affect one of Canada’s most valuable natural resources – wildlife. The Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre (CCWHC) applies the veterinary medical sciences to wildlife conservation and management in Canada.
Canada has been remarkably successful in bringing together its wildlife and veterinary expertise and institutions to track and solve wildlife health issues, uniting wildlife conservation with the health sciences as never before.
Tracking trichomonosis in Atlantic Canada and making an in-depth scientific assessment of its cause will require $100,000 per year over the next several years.
Expanded vigilance for this and other song bird diseases across the country will require another $100,000 each year to support work at the four other regional centres of the CCWHC.
Funding this work will bring the best veterinary science available to safeguard the health and welfare of these song birds. Your donation can help us acquire the funds needed for this program.
Become a Citizen Scientist
We need the direct participation of people who feed birds and are willing to assist the CCWHC to track trichomonosis as precisely as possible. Such Citizen Scientists can contribute to the program in this direct and personal way.
Encourage others to donate and participate
- Engage your employees as participating Citizen Scientists and donors, and match their donations
- Notify the CCWHC when you notice health problems in birds at your bird feeding stations and ensure any dead birds get submitted to the CCWHC for examination to determine the cause of death.
- Tell your friends, neighbours and associates about this program