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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

House Finches & Conjunctivitis

Most of us know that there are serious downsides to feeding the birds. 

Goldfinches, Pine Siskins, and a Downy Woodpecker

I've written about some of the potential problems before:

And on Monday, Carol Off from CBC's As It Happens interviewed researcher Dana Hawley from Virginia Polytechnic about how bird feeders can spread conjunctivitis to House Finches. 

Bird baths attract House Finches 

Listen to the interview and/or read the article here. The highlights:

  • House Finches (an introduced species) use bird feeders a lot
  • When an infected finch rubs its itchy eye on the port of a feeder, it leaves bacteria there, just waiting for the next finch to pick it up 
  • In this study the finch population dropped by 50% over the winter due to conjunctivitis

If you're going to feed the birds, SANITIZE your feeders regularly. A solution of 9 parts water to 1 part bleach will do the trick.  Be sure to rinse well.