Birdcouple hates sights like this. After participating Sunday morning in the annual Patuxent River Waterbird Count - and snagging a cool male Barrow's Goldeneye spotted by another team - we headed up to one of our favorite spots in southern Maryland, Battle Creek Cypress Swamp.
There, we planned to check out their always-active feeders, and take a walk on the boardwalk through one of the northernmost stands of bald cypress trees in the United States.
While Lisa checked out an observation bee hive, I sat at the window in the nature center and snapped pictures of all manner of birds. It was not until we got home and took a closer look that we realized this White-Throated Sparrow has conjunctivitis, a highly contagious bacterial infection better known as House Finch Disease.
We blogged about this almost a year ago, when we had an afflicted goldfinch show up at our home feeder. But we thought the disease was limited to House Finches, American Goldfinches and closely related species. Not so. This scientific paper (it's a PDF file) based on the Cornell Lab's House Finch Disease Survey, found that the disease was reported in 31 species other than House Finches. Of those other cases, three-quarters were in American Goldfinches, Purple Finches and House Sparrows.
But there were a smattering of cases in species such as Cedar Waxwing, Northern Shrike (!) and, yes, White-Throated Sparrow.
So a reminder to all: Please clean those feeders!!