Sunday, 12 May 2013
At this time of year they're in their breeding plumage and the males, in particular, are beautiful. They're also a bird with.... character.
A search on the internet suggests that siskins suffer from diseases brought on by Salmonella and Escherichia - E. coli - with E. coli a strong suspect as it is most infectious in the months from March to June. A site run by the Veterinary Science Division, Avian Health Unit, Ayr - here - describes the symptoms: "the birds appear fluffed up, reluctant to fly, appear to be breathing heavily and may look as if they are having difficulty in swallowing." This describes our birds exactly. An alternative is that they have the same disease as the greenfinches, Trichomonosis, as described at the BTO site here.
We've been through this with our greenfinches: they're only just beginning to recover. There's no doubt that these diseases are encouraged by our drawing the birds to to bird feeders, which then help to spread the infection. We now face the prospect of a summer without siskins, and it may be our fault.