In Germany, thousands of birds have died or they’ve been found sick. An investigation has been launched by conservation groups and scientists, to find out the cause of this mysterious occurrence.

Reports are that more than 11,000 cases of these dead or sick birds, mostly blue tits, have been reported to the German conservation group, NABU, in the past fortnight.

The blue tit is found across Europe and is one of the most common visitors to UK gardens. They eat insects, caterpillars, seeds and nuts and can be spotted all year round in the UK, with the exception of some Scottish islands.

According to NABU, symptoms of the diseased birds include breathing problems, no longer taking food and making no attempt to escape when approached by people. The group is advising people to stop feeding or providing drinking troughs for birds to reduce the risk of transmission between them. 

The first laboratory test results on the dead birds has found a bacterial infection (Suttonella ornithocola) that has been known in the UK since the 1990s and which affects birds similarly. The infection was previously reported in Germany in 2018. Further test results on birds are expected over the next few days.