jccurd's picture

Distressed Great Tit

Observed: 27th February 2011 By: jccurdjccurd’s reputation in Birdsjccurd’s reputation in Birdsjccurd’s reputation in Birdsjccurd’s reputation in Birds

It was quite distressing to see this poor, unfortunate creature struggling to eat at our feeders today. Not only does it have a malformed beak, the upper mandible being about twice as long as the lower, but it has what appears to be an infection causing a swelling around its left eye.
Having spotted another Great Tit with a swelling beneath its beak earlier this winter (it's still with us), we've replaced and/or washed our feeders but this poor chap also seems affected. It looks worse being wet and bedraggled but I can't imagine it will be long for this world, poor thing.

Species interactions

No interactions present.


anonymous spotter's picture

The infection -

may not have anything to do with your feeders, of course; but hygiene is always sensible.
I wonder if the two conditions could be linked in any way? Can't see how, but...

jccurd's picture

I suppose, Roger, ...

... that with its malformed beak problem, this individual may use feeders almost exclusively (as opposed to natural foraging), which increases its chance of contracting this horrible avian pox.

So, maybe the beak could lead to the pox but not vice versa?

Deadpoet's picture

Avian pox virus

This is quite widespread now and often affects eyes, perhaps because infection is being spread at bird feeders (putting head into seed port perhaps). Take a look at the Garden Bird Health Initiative (GBHi) website for more info and advice on disinfection. They will also be interested in receiving this report as they are mapping these emerging diseases in our garden bird population.

jccurd's picture

Thanks ...

... for the GBHi information. I hadn't heard of that but will certainly take a look.

The design of sunflower seed feeders, with feeding ports through which the birds have to stick their heads, certainly looks as if it might be more prone to spread contact-contracted disease than, say, a regular mesh peanut feeder.

jccurd's picture

Avian Pox info sheet and report forms

I found an information sheet about this dreaded avian pox virus on the UFAW site if anyone might be interested:


There are also two places to report infected birds (the forms are almost identical) at UFAW's GBHi (Garden Bird Health initiative - http://www.ufaw.org.uk/gbhi.php) site and the RSPB. I tried UFAW first but it bounced back (mail account exceeded limit). Here's their form:


Had more success with the RSPB. The form is here: