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Garden birds no 'flu threat - BTO

[Wednesday 12 April 2006]

DISTURBED by reports that people have stopped feeding garden birds because of worries about avian 'flu, Britain's leading ornithologists have issued an assurance that these bird are no threat to human health - and have issued an explanatory pamphlet to calm any fears.

BTO: Garden birds pose no Bird Flu threat
BTO: Garden birds pose no Bird Flu threat
Photo: BTO

The British Trust for Ornithology organises Europe's largest bird census via its Garden BirdWatch scheme in which householders list the numbers and species of birds which visit their feeders. The results are a vital barometer of the general health of the bird population.

But since the discovery of a diseased swan in Scotland, there have been reports that people have stopped putting out food at a vital time of the year - the cold, wet spring has vastly reduced the amount of natural food available just before the breeding season starts in earnest - and it has even been said that some people have resorted to actually shooting visiting birds.

"Many people are worried about a risk from bird flu," says Martin Fowlie from the Garden BirdWatch Team. "We are trying to remedy this by stating the simple facts that garden birds are not a threat and that one should always follow simple hygiene rules after feeding birds. To this end we have a produced a free leaflet giving people the information they need to allay their fears."

  • To receive a free copy of the hygiene leaflet, phone on 01842 750050, email gbw@bto.org or write to GBW (Hygiene Leaflet), British Trust for Ornithology, The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk IP24 2PU.
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