Foot disease in finches

Saw a case of foot disease in greenfinch on my garden feeders today. He’s been visiting in the last week, a first for my garden certainly in recent times. He brought a female on one occasion. The photos show ulceration and whitish encrustations on the left foot. The photos are not brilliant as I had a few seconds only to grab the camera photograph the bird before it left.

The images follow: 1 of the whole bird and 2 close ups, all slightly obscured by a twig or similar.

I have cut and pasted first the email from the BTO veterinary surgeon then the link to the .pdf advice document that was attached. Hopefully of interest and for action by all of us with bird feeders, sadly.

“Dear Simon,

Many thanks for taking the time to report to Garden Wildlife Health, helping us to learn more about the disease conditions affecting British wildlife.

Unfortunately, we are unable to confirm thisdiagnosis without performing an examination onthe greenfinch you have observed, however, leg abnormalities in these species are most often associated with either a papillomavirus or Cnemidocoptes sp. mite infestation, or a combination of the two.

In such cases, affected birds usually remain bright and active, but severely affected animals may experience difficulties standing, perching etc.(particularly if they have lost digits/parts of the limb as a result of the lesions), and/or become predisposed to predation or entanglement. As such, if you are, or become, concerned about the welfare of any of the affected birds, please contact your local veterinary surgeon or wildlife rehabilitation centre for advice.

In case you are interested in learning more, thefactsheet attached to this e-mail contains lots of useful information, particularly regarding disease control measures that you can implement in your garden in order to protect other birds from infection.

Once again thank you very much for your reportand I hope you find this information helpful. If you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch. 

All the best,


Joseph Heaver


Wildlife Veterinarian | Research Associate
Institute of Zoology | Zoological Society of London

Garden wildlife health Tel: +44- 20-7449-6685

Follow us on twitter @wildlife_health and @ZSLScience


Click to access avian-finch-limb-abnormalities-factsheet_gwh.pdf