Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hawks on the Wildland-Urban Interface

Trichomoniasis is a disease that occurs in pigeons and doves…as well as in the birds who feed upon them. This especially includes urban Cooper’s Hawks and occasionally others such as Goshawks and, I would assume, Peregrine Falcons. This disease apparently does not trouble adult birds, but as many as 40% of young Cooper’s Hawks die from this disease!

Trich is spread in urban areas during the summer when water is limited and birds concentrate to drink. When diseased doves and pigeons drink at a water source, infected material washes from their mouths out into the water. It is a good idea to add a few drops of bleach to a birdbath regularly, or to empty, clean and sun-dry your birdbaths at least once a week.

Please click here to hear Prof. Bill Mannan of University of AZ give an excellent, short presentation of his and his students work regarding urban Cooper’s Hawks for the past several decades. It’s very interesting and quite well done.

I am curious as to whether something like this product would be a good thing? Would it work better than plain ol’ bleach? I recently read about another…but for the life of me I cannot recall the name. Has anybody experience with such additives?

I appreciate Bosque Bill for bringing this really interesting and important study to my attention. I’ve got a large bird bath which fills with snow that I’ve noticed pigeons drinking from on warm afternoons. I’ve been ignoring the thing way out in the middle of my yard (this time of year under a couple feet of snow) and generally frozen solid, as I provide fresh, clean water daily, in a smaller dish…closer to my back door. I plan to remedy the situation before I kill any young hawks!

I look forward to your comments and hope the information encourages folks to keep those feeders and bird baths clean.

Photos from Wikipedia.


dAwN said...

Hi...I have been catching up with my blrdie blogs and came across your post...
That Citrosan if effective seems like a great product.
I think there are many people who love to feed birds...but I also think many are unaware that they should clean the feeders and water containers.
I dont know of that other product you mentioned...I wonder if grapefruit extract would work?
I buy it at the health food is antibacerial and antifungal and other properties..dont know how it would affect the birds.
Anyway thanks for the good post..and hope that others will follow your lead and clean up.

Beverly said...

Nice to see you again Dawn,

After poking around a bit I found two products that are supposed to keep the baths clean…I suspect the enzymes are the same little buggers that one can put into a koi pond to eat sludge and algie. They do work for that…and will turn a pond clear pretty darn fast!

The products I found are:
Birdbath Protector: Natural enzymes help prevent mineral deposits, stains and organic contaminates from forming. And, another touting Microbe-Lift properties?

But it seems to me I read about something that was supposed to also increase a bird’s resistance to various pathogens…something I’m not all that sure we should be adding to their water. I dunno…

Perhaps the grapefruit extract would work…people consume it…

I hope someone has information on what the heck I'm talking about...I can't find it! [sigh] Perhaps I miss-read it...

Bosque Bill said...

I don't think you need to trudge through the snow and ice to disinfect your big birdbath; think you have a few months before the hawks begin to think about breeding and raising young!

It may be relevant that trichomoniasis is caused by parasites, it is not a virus or bacterium. So whatever we use to clean our birdbaths need to address this aspect. I don't know how effective the more bio-friendly products are in this respect. Those that only claim to clean mineral deposits, stains, and clear the water may not be enough.

Debbie said...

How interesting. I have a heated bird bath on my deck and the water gets pretty disgusting every few days. I clean it out whenever I can get to it without freezing to death. I always add some fresh water to it at a bare minimum. Although I don't get the pigeons, I would like to keep my birdies from getting sick.

Beverly said...

Well, I know I don't actually scrub the birdbaths every time I fill them, but I do empty them entirely before I re-fill. I take a large plastic pitcher of water out with a little splash of bleach from the spray bottle if bleach-water I keep under the kitchen sink...dump the yucky water and poor in the new, clean water. I only actually scrub every once in awhile. Besides, as Bill pointed this cold weather most of the disease-causing stuff isn't as big a problem.

Thanks for that, Bill! And for those of you who didn't know (I can't believe I just found it), Bill started a blog awhile ago that has some really interesting stuff and great conversations going. I keep the link on my blog's sidebar now...or you can find it here: Burque Birding See ya there!

g said...

One tablespoon of plain laundry bleach per gallon of water for prevention or ronidazole available from pigeon supply companies for cure.