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Leg lesions in garden birds peak during winter - study
Chaffinches are the most likely garden bird to be seen with leg lesions, but the condition is also reported less commonly in a number of other finch species.

Virus and mites identified as source of the lesions 

Reports of leg lesions in British finches peak during winter, according to a new study by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

Commonly known as ‘scaly leg’ or ‘tassel foot’, these lesions are growths on the legs and feet, seen in finches in Britain and mainland Europe.

Leg lesions in chaffinches are one of the most frequently reported signs of ill health in garden birds, but there has been no large-scale studies of the condition until now.

ZSL vets looked at data from volunteers taking part in the British Trust for Ornithology’s Garden BirdWatch survey.

Findings published in Scientific Reports suggest that, each week, 3-4 per cent of people recording chaffinches saw a bird with leg lesions in their garden. There was widespread distribution across Britain, with a peak in cases from November to March. This is thought to be down to the annual influx of migratory chaffinches from mainland Europe.

Chaffinches are the most likely garden bird to be seen with leg lesions, but the condition is also reported less commonly in a number of other finch species, including brambling, bullfinch, goldfinch and greenfinch.

Results from post-mortem examinations of more than 1,000 finches suggest there are two causes of this type of lesion - a virus (Fringilla coelebs papillomavirus) and mites (Cnemidocoptes). Both are thought to be transmitted through contact, so good hygiene measures are recommended, including cleaning bird feeders.

Image © John Harding/BTO

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New road sign to protect small wildlife

News Story 1
 Transport secretary Chris Grayling has unveiled a new road sign to help cut traffic accidents and protect small wildlife, particularly hedgehogs.

Local authorities and animal welfare groups are being asked to identify accident and wildlife hotspots where the sign - which features a hedgehog - should be located.

Government figures show that more than 600 people were injured in road accidents involving animals in 2017, and four people were killed. These figures do not include accidents involving horses. The new sign will be used to warn motorists in areas where there are large concentrations of small wild animals, including squirrels, badgers, otters and hedgehogs.  

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NOAH members re-elect Jamie Brannan as chair

Jamie Brannan, senior Vice President of Zoetis, has been re-elected as chair of NOAH for 2019/20, during this year’s AGM, held in London.

Mr Brannan joined Zoetis and the NOAH board in 2016, becoming NOAH’s vice-chair in 2018 and replacing Gaynor Hillier as chair later that year.

He commented: “I am extremely pleased to have been elected by the NOAH membership and am proud to be able to represent our industry at such a critical time for the UK animal health industry. I look forward to driving forward our new NOAH Strategy and to working with our members, old and new, in the coming year.”