Friday, March 6, 2009

Banded Gull & a Sick Goldfinch

The banded gull from last November is back in my yard. I was able to get a picture of it this time and submit my findings back to DCR . This is a ring billed gull and was in a flock with approximately 10 others of the same breed. The DCR was very appreciative of my phone call and I felt good after I reported it. Citizen science at its best.
Speaking of citizen science, I have to report a sick goldfinch in my yard. I saw this lone goldfinch on a branch of my tree and it was acting funny. I got so close to it that I could see its breathing and I noticed both eyes were swollen shut. I went back into my house to grab a shoe box because I knew I could grab it, but it was gone when I went back outside. I brought in all of my feeders and disinfected them and they are back outside. If I see anymore than I am going to have to stop feeding for a week or so which is going to kill me because this is when food is at its most scarce for birds. I did some research at fellow blogs Rambling Woods and Vickie Henderson Art and learned a lot more about helping to control an outbreak.

Right now I am okay because there is only one sick goldfinch that I know of, but I must remain vigilant in my monitoring. I clean my bird bath daily with a hot water rinse, but will do a bleach cleaning 3 times a week.

Platform feeders are the worse feeders to have for disease spread due to the fact that bird feces gets in the food and that is how it is spread. The platform feeder that I just filled up will not be filled up for about two weeks. I will fill up the coconut feeders as food only lasts in there a day and I can clean them with bleach and water every evening as they are super easy to clean (another benefit of coconut feeders). I have two thistle tube feeders and only put out one usually. What I am going to do is rotate the tube feeders. The thistle usually lasts two days and then I have to refill. What I am going to do is replace the tube feeder every other day with a clean disinfected one and rotate for a couple of weeks or so.

I am hoping this will work as I would hate to stop feeding the birds. I will do it if I have to but would rather not because the birds really need it this time of the year.

Something interesting happened to me as I was driving today. I saw a bird that was the size of the turkey vulture. It had a huge twig in its feet and it was flying toward a billboard. I was driving and asked my son to look up there and he confirmed the bird looked to be building a nest of sorts. When we drove by there afterwards, there was no birds, but a bunch of twigs. I am going to have to keep my eyes open to see what bird it is that is building its nest in a billboard!


Elaine Dale said...

I learn or see something new everytime I read your blog. Have a great weekend. Elaine said...

Kim...I have had a diseased goldfinch or housefinch since I have started feeding them. The biggest problem according to my rehabber friend is that they roost together is close quarters and in large numbers where a disease can spread easily.

The others I know who participate in Project Feeder Watch do clean the feeders on a regular basis and do clean the bird baths. Although Cornell suggests it, I don't know of anyone who has taken down the feeders unless there is salmonella symptoms present.

I use an alcohol swab or others use a bleach solution swap to clean the small ports that the birds use inbetween the regular cleaning. It may or not may help as there is no way of knowing what really causes these diseases to spread.

I spent a lot of time very anxious about keeping everything clean, but I still have a couple of eye diseased birds every season. I have now learned to do what I can and know that I help more birds to survive than I cause problems for. I hope this helps you too... Michelle said...

I forgot to add that there is an increase in salmonella this year especially with the influx of pine siskins who along with goldfinch seem to be more prone to it. I have posted about bird feeder diseases for anyone who wants to take a look at it on my blog. I have not seen any symptoms of salmonella in my yard yet...

Steve B said...

Wow, now all the gulls are going to want wrist bands.

Good for you for taking care of your feeders.

Mildred said...

What an interesting post today - I learned a lot and I thank you for all the great info. Have a good weekend.

Shellmo said...

That's good that you spotted that bird and have been cleaning your feeders! I've been buying all sorts of scrubber gadgets from our birdy store. neat to see that banded gull - I wonder if they really needed to put 2 bands on him!

Leedra said...

The bands look like they would affect flight, but apparently not.

Hate to hear about the sick bird, will be watching for your updates on this.

Birds do find the oddest places to build their nest sometimes.

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ShySongbird said...

Hi Kallen,

I am very sorry to hear about your sick finch, we have had problems in the UK for the last few years with Trichomoniasis which is a disease which particularly, although not exclusively, affects finches. It is a water borne disease and can be spread in the bird's saliva. Hygiene is imperative in bird baths and feeders. I unfortunately saw some infected birds late last summer and found it heartbreaking to see them suffer. They appeared very fluffed up and struggled to breath and were very slow to react to movement. I try to be scrupulous with hygiene but am always fearful I may not have seen the last of this dreadful disease. It sounds like you are doing all you can for your birds so I do hope you see no more suffering.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Oh this just upsets me so much. I haven't seen any birds with eye disease--but did have one dead Pine Siskin. I thought it had hit a window--but am not sure. I read where there is ALOT of Salmonella in East TN..

SO--since I'm going to be gone next week, I am going to leave all of my feeders inside. I hate to do it--but even putting out just Sunflower Seed won't get rid of the siskins (since they will eat it also).

I'm sad about all of this--and appreciate all of your help. I would be so upset if I thought my feeders would cause another bird to get sick. I did clean my feeders really good.

Glad you see where the new nest is going to be, Kim. You can watch that bird/those birds... Keep us posted.

Kallen305 said...

Yup, I am bummed out totally. I am in the midst of baking egg shells for the blue jays and was just going to make up a batch of suet and then stopped because I am not sure if I will need it in the next couple of weeks. Very depressing. The thing is that you can keep your feeders clean, but you don't know if other folks who feed birds are. I can have the cleanest bird feeders in my town but that's not to say that a bird can't get sick somewhere else and then spread it in my yard. :o(

I have a funny story to tell about the seagull. I first saw it on Thanksgiving day. I bought a bag of plain stuffing for the birds on that day and put it out there for them. I had about 30 seagulls in my yard and one of them was the one that was banded. When I first saw it, I thought it had bread stickers all over its wings and was outraged. What kind of rotten human being would put bread stickers all over a seagull and how could they keep it still long enough to do it-I thought to myself. Then I figured perhaps he got into a bread truck somehow and the bread stickers stuck to it that way. It wasn't till it was close enough for me to see that I realized it was banded. LOL

Kelly said...

Oh no...I have not seen any diseased birds at my feeders yet, but I'll keep my eyes open. Thanks for the heads up. Cool spotting the gull!!

Susan Gets Native said...

Sounds like your goldfinch has contracted avian conjunctivitis.
Report it to:
This disease has been confirmed in goldfinches, purple finches, house finches, evening grosbeaks and pine grosbeaks.
They will ask how many infected birds there are versus uninfected birds.
Cornell is trying to get a measure of how fast this is spreading. I've seen house, purple and goldfinches with it at my feeders. You did the right thing to clean your feeders.

Cam said...

Disinfecting etc., not as fun, but certainly important. I agree with Shelley re the two bands on the seagull being necessary? The new nest sounds interesting though - Good eye!

Jayne said...

That is so cool that you could see the tag well enough on the gull to report a sighting. I am sure they were excited to hear from a diligent citizen.

I've occasionally seen some finch eye diseased birds, but only for a day or so, and then they seem to be gone.

Deborah Godin said...

I've never seen a bird tagged like that - amazing, and a little strange looking too!


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