Pooled faeces collected from a garden bird table were screened for Salmonella species and Escherichia coli O86, two recognised causes of garden bird mortality. Dead birds found at the site were also screened for these organisms, and bird numbers and meteorological data were recorded. In the first year of the study, 48·5 per cent of the samples were positive for Salmonella Typhimurium DT56 (variant), decreasing to 38·9 per cent in the second year and 12·8 per cent in the third year. E coli O86 was not recovered from any of the 288 samples of pooled faeces tested. S Typhimurium DT56 (variant) was recovered from the carcases of eight birds found dead at the site, and E coli O86 was isolated from three carcases. The degree of contamination of the bird table with S Typhimurium DT56 (variant) was positively correlated with the number of house sparrows observed in the garden, but not with the number of blackbirds, chaffinches or greenfinches.
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