Friday, March 7, 2008

What is Wrong With This Bird?

Warning: This is kind of gross. I purposefully made the pictures small, if you want to see a larger picture you can click on it to increase the size.

When I went outside to refill the bird feeders today, I noticed this female house finch on the feeder. (I'm always hesitant to name birds because I'm terrible at identifying them). She didn't seem to notice when I walked past her. After I finished filling the nearby feeders, I went inside to get my camera to see if I could get a few close-up pictures of her. It was then that I noticed something was wrong with her. She kept shaking her head and it appeared that something was wrong with her eye. The snow was glaringly bright, so it wasn't until I downloaded the pictures onto the computer that I actually saw her eye. I can't tell if she is just naturally deformed or if she has a disease. I'm curious because if it is a disease I wouldn't want the other birds to get it. I need to find out if I should remove the feeders, do I need to remove this one and sanitize it? Shirl, Mon@rch or anyone else, could you give me some insight on this situation?


robbinscabin said...

I once saw 2 birds get into the worst bird "fight" that I've ever seen (before or since). A few days after the fight I noticed that one of "my" birds was flying like a drunkard. When he finally landed I was able to see that his eye was swollen. That's not a great description~the word disgusting comes to mind. I watched the bird for a while longer and realized that some feathers were rather ratty looking. That's when I put 2 and 2together. Just a guess but you're bird could've gotten in a fight at one time or another...

Jan Doble said...

last winter i had a plain brown house finch missing an eye, similar to that. he would come up to the feeder at my window and it took me a couple of 'looks' to realize why it looked so odd. yours pretty much looks 'healthy' in every other way. but, i'm no expert--just wanted to share my experience.

Tammy said...

Hello neighbor...I've just started reading your blog...I live over here near Columbus Ohio but I'm a Southern Gal too (KY)

Poor kind of looks like maybe another bird took a peck at her eye...who knows...Mother Nature can be so harsh sometimes!!

shirl said...

Hi there Robin :-)

Oh... I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news re your finch :-(

By what you have said I am in no doubt that your finch has the disease Trichomoniasis. There is no hope that this bird will survive and it will likely die in 3-4 days. Sorry :-(

Now, once again sorry to tell you this when you so enjoy the birds in your garden, you now have to think of the other birds that will come to your feeders. This disease is very contagious and as long as this bird sits at your feeders it will spread the disease by the foamy stuff that is in its beak. Sorry, but you should chase it away - but as you have said it won’t be in a hurry to move. You must chase it to save the others. This disease makes me so sad as there is nothing you can do to save the infected bird.

Now, I have to say that hygiene at your feeders is absolutely paramount now. You should now go and empty your feeders and then clean them – boiling water will do. One thing I should say though is that the birds that visit your feeders are likely to have a round trip of gardens up to 6 miles that they will visit during the day so please do not feel that you have given this disease to this bird. I have had people mailing me saying that they have taken all their feeders down. This won’t help the birds at all as they will struggle to find food and may well pick this disease up in another garden at feeders that are not kept clean!

My advice to you is regularly clean your feeders (perhaps every few days for the moment then weekly after) and do not stop feeding the birds as they could die by not finding food too.

I have a link at the top of my sidebar if you want to see my photos – read the comments too. I have to warn you they are quite graphic. On the positive side I too have had it in my garden (not that positive) and the finches still visit and I only see one every now and again with this disease. This disease is often called the fat finch disease. I have seen it in house sparrows, goldfinches, siskins, greenfinches and chaffinches – it really makes me quite sad.

Please, please do not feel that you have caused this disease with your feeders. Just concentrate on keeping yours regularly clean - which you maybe already do. You need to stop this as quickly as it has arrived in your garden. Prevention is the way to go forward. You will still be able to enjoy seeing the birds in your garden as I can verify. The poor infected birds are starving to death as they cannot swallow. I have also noticed that they appear at my pond with this condition trying to drink.

My heart sank when I saw your photo, I am so sorry to break this news to you. However, now you can do something to stop it spread. Please do not stop feeding the birds.

Naturegirl said...

Robin perhaps it's just a matter of she came for her last meal before she goes to her next life...or she knew enough to come to your well stocked feeder.
The elements can be so harsh on these wee angels.
I once found an injured Robin who looked very much like your wee one..and posted about it last July.."Fallen Angel" if you want to read it..

hopefully you can pass along a blessing to her..I am as I veiw this posting.
I always feel blessed when these injured or frail feathered friends find their way to my feeders.
hugs NG

Thank you for viewing my Arizona road trip..more to post as I'm here for 2 months!!

Naturegirl said...

I've just read shirl's comment..Peace be to that little bird. sigh NG

Anna said...

So Sorry Robin. I know you are probably out cleaning right now soon as you got this news. I bet that is a big chore and costly for you too. Good luck with chore and I can see how it would happen to lots of folks. It's no ones fault so I hope you don't feel quilty.

Blue Fox said...

I've noticed this same problem in early spring, I never knew what caused it, I always just called them 'bumblers' because they just flutter along the ground and fluff up their feathers. I agree with Shirl, you have to clean your feeders right away to prevent more infections. BTW, thanks for visiting me!

Mel said...


Carol said...

Robin, looks like I'll be cleaning out my feeders this weekend, too, as I saw a bird just like that, with the eye problem, at my feeders last weekend.

Thanks for posting the pictures and thanks to Shirl for the information.

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Melanie said...

Oh my, I feel so sad. I read your blog earlier when there were no comments and had to come back to see what others had to say.

Mother nature can be cruel, it hurts so much when we see a hurt or sick animal in our little piece of heaven.

Robin's Nesting Place said...

Robbinscabin: I hate to see the birds fighting. I didn't get to see this one fly.

Jan Doble: I enjoyed seeing the pictures you've taken with your new camera. Thanks for stopping by.

Tammy: Hi there!I'm so glad you stopped by and left a comment. You have a beautiful blog!

Shirl: I remembered your post on Trichomoniasis and was really hoping it wasn't what was wrong with my bird. Thank you for stopping by to let me know. I won't stop feeding the birds since the weather is so bad right now, but I will dump the seed and clean it good tomorrow. That is so sad.

Naturegirl: Hi, it's so good to see you! I do look forward to hearing more about your trip. Enjoy!

Anna: I didn't get the news until dark, and there were no birds out then. I'll get it cleaned tomorrow.

Blue fox: Your welcome. I do hope this is an isolated event.

Mel: It is sad. Thanks for stopping by.

Carol: You too! I wonder if this is something that is becoming more prevalent. I sure hope not.

vonlafin said...

So sad, but that is how nature works..I will have to watch for this disease in my birds, I have not seen it yet.

Entangled said...

Robin, I think the bird may have Avian Pox which seems more common here in the US than Trichomoniasis. Regardless of which disease it has, cleaning the feeders thoroughly is the recommended procedure. The common advice used to be to take down the feeders, but now the experts seem to feel that it's OK to put them up again after cleaning. Cornell's Project FeederWatch site has some information about several bird diseases you may see at feeders.

Just yesterday, I noticed some purple finches at the feeder in the same condition as yours, so I'll be disinfecting the feeders this afternoon. Fun, fun [not] :-(

mon@rch said...

Sorry that I didn't get to this post sooner! I am a little behind trying to catch up! For sure this bird appears to have conjunctivitis which has been found in House Finch since mid 1990's! I don't know that much about the disease but have heard that it could be some form of bird pox. As many others mentioned . . . I strongly suggest cleaning your feeders with bleach on a regular basis. Birds have been known to heal from conjunctivitis but that is a very small percentage. Be sure to keep an eye on this bird and for you it is very important to keep the feeders clean! You don't want this to spread through your other birdies!

Brenda Kula said...

I would think you should sanitize it, but that's me being compulsive about everything! Poor little birdy.

Cheryl said...

I see by your comments that other people left that you know what is wrong with your little finch. I had a greenfinch with it last year, it is a very cruel disease. I sterilise my feeders, tables, and bird baths regularly. Also sweep up and clean around the areas below the feeders. Since that time everything appears to be okay but I am constantly on the look out.

Hope you get everything sorted.

Randy and Jamie said...

Jamie found a cardinal last year and his eyes were stuck together. He cleaned them really well and the bird flew away, but he hung around for the rest of the summer and kept his, good eye, on us.

Q said...

Dear Robin,
Glad Shirl was able to tell you about this eye disease. I had a couple of House Finches last year get it. I did clean the feeders. This year I have not seen one House Finch. I have seen lots of Purple Finches.
Hope you are staying warm.

lintys said...

oh, poor birdie! Wow, I'm glad I read this. I had no idea birds could get these kinds of illnesses.

Marie said...

Poor bird, he must been in a fight or something...

Have a nice evening :)

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Robin, I do wish I had seen your post to me before I departed for Indy. We certainly could have met at the Indy F&Pshow. I stayed a couple of days with friends in Anderson and did not read your post until too late. I don't have your email address so I could have emailed you. Maybe next time I am up that way we could meet.??

By now you know all about your finches eye problems. I hope you aren't too discouraged about feeding birds. It is a sad thing to happen but you can do your best by cleaning your feeders. It seems like this runs it course and then your birds won't have this for a long time...if the neighbors also clean their feeders.

I hope you and yours are well and you didn't get that blizzard that blew through this weekend.