In recent years there has been an increase in food supply for birds that visit house gardens, with great benefits for many species as it allows them to easily obtain food, especially in winter, when a shortfall in natural food occurs.
However, there is a potential risk of an increase in disease transmission because numerous birds of different species may coincide at the same time at these feeding points. Therefore, it is necessary to know the role of this anthropogenic activity in the epidemiology of infections.
Various infectious diseases have been identified as causes of mortality in garden birds, such as smallpox, salmonellosis, trichomoniasis and malaria, among others.
In 2019, infection with the bacterium Suttonella ornithocola killed thousands of tits in Germany, and has spread to other European countries. In Catalonia, the arrival of the disease is suspected, but so far it has not been confirmed and no mass mortality has been detected. Our research group, WildCom, together with the Catalan Institute of Ornithology (ICO) and the Fauna and Flora Service of the Catalan Government, have created an Infection Alert and Detection Network of Suttonella ornithocola in tits in Catalonia.
Blue tit in Creixell (Tarragona, Spain), with simptoms compatible with Suttonella ornithocola
(damaged feathers around the head, lethargy, ill aspect). Author: Marina Sentís
If you find a live or dead tit with suspected symptoms of the disease, please contact us.
Remember that even though it is a disease that does not affect people, basic hygiene measures should be taken, such as washing your hands after handling the animal.