Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Strange Feeder Visitor

March 27 update: Looks like our poor fellow has Finch conjunctivitis. Not fatal, but very contagious. BirdCouple's feeders are down for now.... Thanks to everyone who helped ID the problem.

This poor little fellow showed up at our feeder this morning. It looks to me like an American Goldfinch, but something's wrong. Is it just a case of aberrent plumage? Is the bird ill? Is it just a flegdling?

Please post comments or ideas!

Here are two more photos:


noflickster said...

Wow, interesting pictures! It looks as though the American Goldfinch has conjunctivitis. From the House Finch Disease Survey web page:

"Although infected birds have swollen eyes, the disease is primarily a respiratory infection. It is caused by a unique strain of the bacterium Mycoplasma gallisepticum, which is a common pathogen in domestic turkeys and chickens. The infection poses no known health threat to humans, and had not been reported in songbirds prior to this outbreak. Researchers at various institutions are currently trying to learn more about the transmission, genetics, and development of this disease."

There's more information about the disease and the similar-looking avian pox in the FAQ at http://www.birds.cornell.edu/hofi/hofifaqs.html (though prepare yourself for some pretty gross images).

Incidentally, the bacterium doesn't kill the bird, so it could clear up. However, it does affect their vision, so they are more susceptible to predation, starvation or other secondary factors.

Hope your goldfinch makes it!
- Mike

Warren and Lisa Strobel said...

Mike - Thanks very much for the information. ... We hope the bird gets better, too. I felt bad just posting the picture.

Predation was one of my first thoughts, given that the poor thing obviously could not see me as quickly or clearly as our usual Goldfinches do...


Anonymous said...

lisa and warren
conjunctivitis is usually seen in animals with a vitamin A deficiency, try putting out dried fruits or hanging up a cantaloupe.