Recently, I’ve had a bit of a heartbreak in my backyard. I need to tell you about it so you wont’ make the same mistake.
House Finch Eye Disease
I’ve blogged before about the importance of paying attention to your feeders and yanking them down the minute you see any of your house finches with the eye disease they can get. I’d been pretty lucky this year that I had not seen any infected birds until this point. A week or so I saw one bird that had a mild case of it. I should have pulled the feeders down right then but I didn’t.
That was my first mistake.
The weather was not that cold and the birds were not mobbing my feeders. I don’t have tube feeders up which are the worst for spreading the disease so I felt I was pretty safe. I only witnessed maybe one or two others so I thought I did not have a run away epidemic on my hands.
That was my second mistake.
In the past couple of weeks, feeding has been off and on. My goldfinches were primarily feeding on my big hopper feeder and the upside down thistle feeders they have. They also love the chickadee feeder with sunflower hearts which the house finches have a tough time feeding from. I didn’t actually see any sick house finches feeding from it so I thought the goldfinches were safe using it.
That was the final mistake.
Goldfinches Can Get House Finch Eye Disease
Two days ago, I was watching the house finches feeding from the chickadee feeder hanging right outside my sliding glass back door. I was suddenly drawn to one of them that was twisting his head back and forth in an odd manner. I got a sick feeling because over the years I’ve learned to spot this behavior in seconds. On closer inspection, I could see the bird had one eye completely shut and swollen. Within minutes, I had taken down the feeder and put it in my garage. I will not put it back out until it is cleaned and the infected birds are gone.
Why Did This Happen?
Because I wasn’t taking my own advice and got lazy. I don’t know if the little ones who contracted the disease will live or die. I DO know, it’s my fault for not taking action when I knew I should have. I know I’m not the first person or the last that will do this but I hope this post serves to spark you into action when you know you should take it. It’s very hard sometimes to balance continuing to feed birds when they need it with a potential health risk to them.
For now, I hope my goldfinch friends will see it in their hearts to forgive me. I would not knowingly do anything to harm them and I feel awful about this. I promise to take and keep down all feeders until this passes. I further promise to clean all feeders again before putting them back up.
What About You?
Do you have a regular cleaning schedule? Do you stick to it? Are you actively paying attention to your feeders or do you just fill them and forget them? Let us know your experience and share any tips you have to avoid this.