Tuesday, April 8, 2008

House Finch Eye Disease


What's not to love about house finches? They are colorful, lively, noisy and happy little birds that come to feeders and hang out with bluebirds....all good things.

Very handsome fellow - gorgeous color. I have them in orange/yellow too.

Quizzical female.

But a couple of years ago, I spotted this fellow at the feeder - an obvious case of mycoplasmal conjunctivitis, or house finch eye disease.
http://www.birds.cornell.edu/hofi/abtdisease.html
He was more skittish than house finches usually are, and flew up into the tree when I went out.

Last summer I spotted another one. This one stayed alone; he looked very sick.

And last week, I saw this female with what appears to be early stages of the disease. I have signed up for Cornell's study of this problem, and will be submitting my observations of house finches, with and without signs of eye disease. http://www.birds.cornell.edu/hofi/ Goldfinches are also included in the study, but I haven't seen any infected goldfinches so far.

19 comments:

Sandpiper said...

Beautiful pictures. They're such wonderful visitors. I have them here all the time now. I've been watching them for this disease, but so far, so good. All of mine seem okay. I did see one last year, but not in my yard. It was while I was out walking. I think it's good that you signed up.

The Birdlady said...

I guess since it was first noted in DC, and we're DC suburbs, we probably have it a lot more. It breaks my heart - they look so sick and sad. Thanks for looking.

Stacey Huston said...

Birdlady, it is always horrible to watch animals suffer unaided.. Thanks for participating in the study, and I hope it doesn't spread to far... thanks for sharing!

Aunt "B's" Backyard said...

Hi Birdlady! Your shot are incredibly beautiful. I haven't seen any house finches here and haven't seen any of the other birds with any eye problems, and hopefully won't. I can see why it would be so hurtful to see them so sick. Is there anything that you can put in their food to help with the sickness?

Bird Girl said...

Yes, I've seen many finches in the last several years with mycoplasmal conjunctivitis. It's difficult to even look at the pictures of the infected birds...especially beside the lovely shots you've taken of the healthy finches. Hope your input helps Cornell's study!

Sandy said...

I have so many finches around I will have to start looking closer when I photograph them. Never knew they could have that condition.

sandy

John Theberge said...

I would think they would constantly fly into things if they can't see. Does it affect both eyes?

kjpweb said...

Good shots and sad as well. Haven't encountered the problem down here. Hopefully it is not a "yet".
Cheers, Klaus

Nick S said...

I also had one last year in my yard. At first I was wondering why it was letting me get so close, then I saw its poor eye.
I have no clue if the bird survived though or if it got better :-(

The Birdlady said...

Hi Everybody, and thanks. Yes, it's really sad and hard to look at. I haven't seen the little infected female again. Happily, I have had lots of healthy appearing finches though, and they delight me.

jalynn01 said...

Hi birdlady,
Last year I saw several house finches with this disease. One particulary stands out in my mind, as it was on the feeder when I came home from work around 5pm and was still there at dark. The next morning it was gone. I don't even want to think what happened to it.I'm saddened when I see them and want to help, but do not know how.

The Birdlady said...

jalynn - so very sad - the only thing I know to do is participate in the survey - at least they can track it, while they figure out what to do. the web sites are in the blog. Thanks for stopping by.

Becky said...

It's sad to think of birds having illness too.

Your photos are great.

I just dropped by to say hello
and to let you know there is a
little contest going on at My Serentity Garden
If you’d like to join in.
~Becky~

The Birdlady said...

Becky - Yes, it's heartbreaking. I guess all creatures suffer injuries, deformities and illness. A couple of summers ago, I had a one-footed goldfinch at my feeders. His leg just stopped about 1/2 the length of the other one. He seemed to fly and feed OK, but I saw him for a couple of weeks, then never again. Probably not very efficient against predators.
BTW, your little tea contest is cute - I don't know anything about tea, except I love it!

Naturegirl said...

Poor little souls..I've not seen this myself. It is heartbreaking for sure to witness.I'll keep a lookout for this.
Your photos are lovely.

The Birdlady said...

NG - Hope you never see it.

oldmanlincoln said...

I enjoyed my first visit to your blog and noticed the finches with the eye problems. Not sure what it is or what causes it but we often see one each year, here in SW Ohio, with one eye in pretty bad shape.

Abraham Lincoln in Brookville, Ohio.

Anonymous said...

A few hours ago I spotted the second visiting house finch an eye condition. The first had its left eye missing and it had orange markings. This one is a very young male and has a huge bump (looks like a bubble) on its eye. Haven't gotten a very good look yet, but it's distressing to see. Is this a contagious condition?

tanya said...

found a bird down here in north carolina it looked more like its eyes were rotted out or something. but i didnt want it to get eaten so i put it in a basket and then i tried to find out what was wrong with it. then went to check on it and it was dead..........i was sad. but i buried it and i figured i would post about it.