A deadly parasite is killing Canadian birds and what you can do to help! Plus Ravens plan ahead like we do!

Caroline Ladanowski, Director of Wildlife Management and Regulatory Affairs from the Canadian Wildlife Service and Environment and Climate Change Canada sent out an advisory today to inform the public of a parasite, trichomonas gallinae, which is currently affecting migratory birds in Canada, and of preventative measures which may be taken to help minimize the spread of the parasite. Please read below and do what you can to help out if you feed the birds in your own yard.

"Trichomonas gallinae is a microscopic parasite most often affecting pigeons and doves that can also affect other birds, such as finches, wild turkeys and raptors. Incidents of the parasite have been recently reported in the Maritimes and Quebec . While the parasite does not pose a health threat to humans or other mammals such as dogs or cats, captive poultry and pet birds could be infected.

Measures can be taken to help prevent the spreading of the parasite.  Regular cleaning and disinfecting of food and water sources such as bird feeders and baths regularly is recommended. In addition, daily replacement of drinking water with fresh and clean water and periodic replacement of food will also help limit the spread of parasite. Furthermore, the position of feeders should be alternated to avoid a build-up of contaminated food in any one area (e.g., food that falls to the ground).Platform feeders should not be used as these allow for the build-up of food and thus increases chances of spreading the parasite.

Affected birds may drool saliva, regurgitate food, have difficulty in swallowing food and water, demonstrate laboured breathing and/or have a swollen neck or throat. They may also show signs of general illness (i.e. lethargy, poor flight ability and fluffed up feathers). If sick or dead birds are found, it should be reported to the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative. 

In an effort to prevent the further spread of this parasite, we have prepared an information sheet to provide guidance on the effects of the parasite, how it is transmitted, and ways to limit its spread which can be found on the Environment and Climate Change Canada website at:https://www.ec.gc.ca/nature/default.asp?lang=En&n=A96001B2-1.

Additional information can also be found on the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative website at: http://www.cwhc-rcsf.ca/trichomonosis.php."


Caroline Ladanowski, M.Eng., P.Eng.
Director, Wildlife Management and Regulatory Affairs, Canadian Wildlife Service
Environment and Climate Change Canada | Government of Canada
Gatineau, QC K1A OH3

Also an aside, for those who didn't know... Ravens are smart, bloody brilliant actually, but did you know they plan ahead and they don't just plan for food foraging and hoarding, like Scrub-Jays do. Ravens have been proven now through studies to plan not just for natural tasks and food foraging but forward complex planning in general terms, in a variety of ways, as children and apes do. It was proven that Ravens plan for tool use and bartering with delays up until 17 hours, that they can exercise self control and consider temporal distance to events in the future just like apes. These new studies suggest that the ability of Corvids to plan evolved independently from ours.

To read more about this click HERE.


  1. Very interesting to read about ravens intelligence thanks for sharing these interesting stories


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