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Causes of death of wild birds of the family Fringillidae in Britain
  1. T. W. Pennycott, BVM&S, MRCVS1,
  2. H. M. Ross, BVM&S, MRCVS2,
  3. I. M. McLaren, HNC3,
  4. A. Park, PGD MLS1,
  5. G. F. Hopkins, AIBMS4 and
  6. G. Foster, FIBMS2
  1. 1 SAC Veterinary Science Division, Avian Health Unit, Auchincruive, Ayr KA6 5AE
  2. 2 SAC Veterinary Science Division, Drummondhill, Stratherrick Road, Inverness IV2 4JZ
  3. 3 Bacteriology Department, Central Veterinary Laboratory, Addlestone, Surrey KT15 3NB
  4. 4 SAC Veterinary Science Division, Janetstown, Thurso KW14 7XF


The provision of supplementary food for wild birds in gardens during the winter months is common in the UK, but it is possible that it may precipitate infectious diseases in the birds. This paper describes the results of postmortem examinations of 116 wild finches carried out over a period of four years. The two commonest causes of death in areas where high mortality had been reported were infections with the bacteria Salmonella typhimurium DT4o and Escherichia coli O86. Coccidia of the genera Atoxoplasma or Isospora were found in several of the birds but were considered to be incidental. Megabacteria were also identified in some of the birds, for the first time in flocks of wild birds in the UK, but they were not considered to be significant.

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