Friday, October 9, 2009

Backyard Feeder Watch: Avian Disease

My backyard feeders have been alive with birds these last few weeks. Among the House Finches, House Sparrows, Black-capped Chickadees, European Starlings, and healthy American Goldfinches, is this one chubby little Goldfinch.

I call him Parker.

I have studied Parker for several weeks now. I originally discovered him, asleep, on one of the thistle feeder perches back in August. He would wake every so often to feed; fly over to the bird bath for a sip; and then quickly return to his perch. He would remain there until nightfall. Each day, he would return, early, and park.

Is he sick? Is he old? I've done a little research and found that this little Goldfinch may be suffering from
Trichomoniasis. I have since removed all of my feeders and the bird bath; thoroughly washing them with hot water and soap and then bleaching them for 15 minutes (with one part Javex to 9 parts water), as recommended by Project FeederWatch. I am undecided as to whether I should restock and return the feeders to my backyard or not. I'm leaning towards the "not" because I have noticed considerable accumulations of pigeons lately and they may be the culprits.

I have also observed two House Finches that appear to be suffering from Avian Pox. Yet another reason to clean and disinfect feeders and bird baths on a regular basis. I clean my feeders and bird bath weekly but disinfecting them with bleach is imperative to avoid the spread of disease. It only takes one sick bird at your feeder to spread disease to others -- so keep your eyes peeled and your feeders spic n' span.


  1. Great info..more of us need to clean our feeders more regularly. Hope that lots of Home Birdwatchers take your advise. Poor little birds.

  2. A really nice blog. I love birds. Your pictures are excellent. All the best.