Laboratory tests have found that thousand of blue tit birds have been affected by a pneumonia-like illness. The tests were performed in Germany and confirmed that a bacteria called Suttonella ornithocola.

Suttonella ornithocola is thought to be responsible for 13% of blue tit deaths in the United Kingdom in the spring. Disease symptoms include loss of appetite, breathing problems and ungroomed feathers. Garden birds carry a variety of diseases and can sometimes help spread diseases including West Nile Virus, Salmonella and other viruses.

Scientists are encouraging those with bird feeders to be extra cautious to help prevent the spread of this disease. They are also encouraging monitoring local birds for evidence of infection to help pinpoint and stop the spread. If you have bird feeders in your yard, consider placing food further apart, yes social distanced, so birds can prevent the spread of infection.

To keep your bird feeders and birdbaths clean, experts recommend:

  • Washing and disinfecting bird feeders regularly
  • Feed birds in moderation to encourage regularly emptied feeders
  • Rinse out water containers daily
  • Move feeders regularly to new locations
  • Purchase food from safe sources

Read more about birds in One Green Planet, including scientists studying birds relationship to climate change, the Audubon Society’s warning, bird-safe glass in New York Citybird populations at risk and birds ingesting plastic.

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