Research published yesterday* reveals that a new strain of avian pox is particularly affecting great tit populations. Infection leads to warty, tumour-like growths on different parts of the bird's body. Although the disease can be relatively mild in some species, great tits suffer severe growths that can prevent them from feeding and it also makes them more susceptible to predators.

This news and other reports of bird disease reminds us of the importance of keeping bird feeding stations clean and also using bird feeders which have been treated with Feedsafe, an anti bacterial coating which kills bacteria on contact.

Here's a reminder of what we can do in our gardens to help prevent the spread of bird disease:

Clean your feeding stations regularly, about every two weeks.

Set up more than one feeding area to reduce the number of birds in a single area.

Add Feeder Fresh crystals to feeders to help absorb any additional moisture.

Invest in one of our BTO FeedSafe Feeders with a magnetic flip-top or one of our Heavy Duty Swivel Top Feeders. Endorsed by the BTO, these quality feeders are treated with the unique FeedSafe coating which protects against microbes and germs, and inhibits the growth of bacteria for up to 10 years - helping to prevent the spread of disease amongst wild birds.

Change water in bird baths or feeding trays regularly, ideally every day.

Invest in bird feeders which have easy to remove bases, perches and ports so that they are easy to clean. Once again, the BTO Magnetic Flip Top Feeders or Heavy Duty Swivel Top Feeders are ideal.

Use a bird safe disinfectant with warm water to rid of any unwanted grime and bacteria build up.

Use cleaning implements that are made for the job, such as a Bird Feeder Cleaning Brush to help get into all nooks and crannies, and Stainless Steel Scraper for bird tables.

After using a safe disinfectant, rinse thoroughly under warm water to remove all remaining dirt and grime.

Leave to air dry in a well-drained area.

Ensure you thoroughly disinfect the area (sink or bucket for example) and cleaning implements used after you've finished and carefully wash your hands afterwards.

You can purchase the products mentioned above at _www.ernest-charles.com.

To find out more information, visit the British Trust for Ornithology website, Good hygiene practice | BTO - British Trust for Ornithology.

*Published by Scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), University of Oxford, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and RSPB, see attached press release at New strain of bird virus sweeps across Britain