Page last updated at 00:23 GMT, Sunday, 11 April 2010 01:23 UK

Warning over unclean bird feeders

Birds at a feeder
Contagious infections can spread from bird feeders

Experts have warned that bird feeders and baths should be regularly cleaned to prevent a disease which is being blamed for a drop in greenfinches.

The contagious parasite trichomoniasis is said to be flourishing in wet conditions, the British Trust for Ornithology says.

The parasite causes throat swelling in birds, preventing them from eating.

Greenfinches are at particular risk and it is feared half a million may have died in one year alone.

In a paper due out later this month, the BTO will warn that cases of trichomoniasis have spiralled.

The BTO is calling on bird lovers to regularly clean tables and empty feeders, bird baths and duck houses to prevent the disease spreading further.

Its research comes days after the researchers at the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) also said garden bird feeders could be putting birds at risk.

A 13-year study but the college found that the salmonella infection can build up on feeders and then spread among birds.

The study revealed that greenfinches and house sparrows appeared to be particularly vulnerable to the disease.

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