Birds struck by killer starving disease
Thousands of Ireland's favourite garden birds have been struck down with a killer disease which starves them to death.
Trichomaniasis causes growths in bird's mouths and stops them from eating and drinking.
Thousands of birds, including greenfinches, chaffinches (pictured), house sparrows and doves, have been wiped out. There is no cure available for wild birds that have been infected .
The worst-affected areas so far are Dublin, Kildare, Sligo and Mayo.
Many other garden birds, such as robins and blackbirds, appear to be unaffected by the disease. It is also harmless to humans and all other mammals.
To prevent the spread of the disease, the best advice is to regularly clean bird feeders and baths and to let them air dry, as the protozoan (parasite organisms) responsible for the disease survives for only a short time away from moist conditions.
Niall Hatch of Birdwatch Ireland said bird feeders should be moved occasionally to prevent the build-up of waste which may harbour the disease.
He said: "If a bird suffering from trichomoniasis is noted, all feeding should be stopped, with bird feeders and baths cleaned and air dried.
"Feeding should be stopped for approximately 10 days to two weeks in order to allow birds which had previously visited the feeders to disperse and so reduce the likelihood of other birds being infected.
"However, it is best not to resume until you no longer see any infected birds in or around your garden."