Message from Jim Reynolds, of the Centre for Ornithology in Birmingham, UK, who seeks assistance to study a possibly spreading avian pathology:

I am starting a research project and call upon the world’s ornithologists to send me records about a rather ‘rare’ condition in birds, called “oral fistula”. I hope that posting this call will make the EOU membership aware of my project. I am interested in receiving records of birds with the condition including any high resolution photographs that you might be able to provide.

Oral fistula was first documented in Stitchbirds (hihi) in New Zealand and since then we have found it in two species of seabirds in the South Atlantic – the Sooty Tern and the Masked Booby. I have recently become aware of the condition in other species. This research project attempts to document the species in which it occurs, identify the cause(s) and describe the progression of the condition. Therefore, I am particularly interested in hearing from three groups of people who have close encounters with birds – wildlife photographers, field veterinary researchers and ringers, but also more broadly from anyone who has encountered the condition in birds. The essence of the project is contained within the two attached documents: (1) an Information Sheet about the project, and (1) a Reporting Form which can be completed and returned to me by e-mail. The same information is summarised on the webpage link entitled “Oral fistula project” below where there are downloadable versions of both attached files.

A month ago I launched the call for reports of the condition to heads of national ringing schemes around the world. At the time of writing I have received 19 completed report forms that describe the condition in 10 different species. However, I know that this is potentially only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ and I would really appreciate it if you could pour over your field notebooks and get in contact if this triggers any memories of birds with the condition.

  1. James Reynolds

Centre for Ornithology,

School of Biosciences, College of Life & Environmental Sciences,

University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK

Tel. 0121-414-3639 Fax. 0121-414-5925


Oral fistula project: