Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Failing Vision

It is difficult for any birder to watch their feathered friends have difficulty and know there is nothing they can do to assist. As I discussed earlier, I've noted a harsh case of avian conjunctivitis with a female house finch, and another bird appears to be infected with the disease. In fact, the swelling around the eye is so pronounced it can be seen from a formidable distance, and this bird -- also a female house finch -- is unbalanced when hopping, landing, or perching. The other birds are aware of her condition and chase her away from the feeders. This may seem cruel, but in the end it is a defensive mechanism that can help inhibit the spread of the disease.

It is heartbreaking for birders to observe these less than ideal conditions, but it is just as crucial to remember that it is part of the cycle of the lives of all creatures. Just as humans ail, so do birds. By providing food, shelter, and water, we can help birds protect themselves and live long, healthy lives. Not all of the birds will be able to, but we can't let that dissuade us from enjoying a hobby that enriches both our lives and the lives of the birds who share it.

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