Trichomoniasis Threat to Common British Birds

In August, 2010, a representative of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) was interviewed on the BBC. The item under discussion was the decline in various indigenous British wild birds – with specific mention of Greenfinches and Chaffinches – which have declined sharply in the past few years.

It appears that the problem is our “old friend” Trichomoniasis (See page 233 in The Challenge), which has been carried by pigeons for years, but has now crossed into some species of our wild population.

The total number of different species involved has yet to be determined.


It is well recorded throughout the hobby we enjoy, that for years we had no trouble from this protozoan disease which gives all the symptoms of “going light”, but additionally causes secondary fungal deposits in the oesophagus so that the budgerigar cannot swallow seed grains.

The sure symptomatic sign is birds crowded round the seed pots and the pots filling rapidly with “dust”. This is because the birds are grinding up the seed into tiny particles in order to get a few tiny grains down into their systems.

There will also be signs of wet areas around the beak and face in general.

Alleged Problem

A few years ago the European Union (EU) banned the use of Emtryl Powder which was used by the grouse breeders so that the gun “sport” has plenty of targets.

That caused an outcry at the time in that industry and of course in our “world”.

Pure Emtryl is unobtainable now, but there are various products containing Emtryl sold under various product names.

One wonders if the banning of such an effective product has caused an increase in trichomonas across other species, but that is guesswork.

What To Do?

By chance, Les Martin and I were invited by Tom and Andrew Luke to their excellent aviaries near Preston in Lancashire.

As we entered, Tom asked us to step on a very large 2 inch deep absorbent mat containing disinfectant – probably Virkon-S or similar.

This meant anything carried on our feet from other aviaries was immediately neutralised.

However trichomonas was not the main object in mind, but a sound practice of practising biological disinfection from entering the birdroom.

Our hands were similarly sprayed – as one does in a hospital today. Hands are the greatest form of cross infection of any kind so be aware of that after handling birds between aviaries.

Tom and Andrew were quick to respond to a request from myself where to obtain such a mat and I now have one outside the aviary filled with disinfectant – and I use it all the time!

Why? Because we are surrounded by pigeons at home and droppings are all over the place and the pigeons excrete into the bird baths every day. Step into any droppings and walk into the aviary and the flights in particular – and off you go with trichomonas in the stud.

Uncovered outside flights are a big hazard – so be warned.

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Filed Under: HealthNews



About the Author: Gerald Binks began breeding budgerigars when he was 12 years old and is now arguably the most knowledgeable budgerigar fancier in the world. He has bred his fair share of Best in Show birds, judged in no less than 20 countries, founded the World Budgerigar Association, and has published two of the three classic books on the hobby. His stud in the UK attracts fanciers from near and far and is always high on the list for those wishing to purchase BA23 quality budgerigars.

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  1. Barry Merrison says:


    Is this what trico plus is used for from the pigeon fancy ?


  2. Gerald S Binks says:


    I am not familar with “Trico Plus” presumably supplied to those in the Pigeon Fancy, but for certain it will contain a quantity of “Emtryl” which kills off the Trichomonads that most pigeons can easily carry.

    I therefore feel that you are safe to use for budgerigars, but as “Emtryl” products are highly hazardous if overdone, you must scale down the dosage appropriately, relative to the weight of the budgerigar to a pigeon.

    Overdosong is easy and too much will kill them quickly, so be careful.

    Gerald S Binks

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