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Laurie Reynolds

North Branford, CT, United States


Yesterday morning I noticed a goldfinch with eye disease. The left eye was shut and there was significant inflammation by the right eye. The bird kept shaking and rubbing its head. It flew aimlessly. I took pictures and videos. I then found a second goldfinch with eye inflammation. Both birds were at our house again today. We have very few house finches at our feeders, and I have always checked each one and have never seen any with eye disease.


Eye problems

American Goldfinches With Eye Disease

second goldfinch with eye disease

11 replies on “American Goldfinches with eye disease”

Bev Brooks says:

Three things: House Finches are about half the number of just 5 yrs ago. Seems to be a respiratory condition. Anything that can be done for them? Contagious to other birds?
Evening Grosbeaks came in last fall-never had them here before. They left for the winter and are back now. What could cause them to move here?
Saw a totally Blue Bird that comes in for water twice a day. Thought it was a Western Mt Bluebird at first glance (we have a lot of them), but it travels alone and never seen here before. I live on the west side of the state of New Mexico, 7400′, about 60 miles south of Gallup. Pinon Pine, some Ponderosa, Juniper, and Scrub Oak are some of the habitat.

Holly Faulkner says:

Hi Bev,
House Finch Eye Disease is unfortunately a common condition among Finch species and some others – and it is contagious. You can learn more about how to combat the disease on our Sick Birds and Bird Diseases page (
Data from eBird ( shows that Evening Grosbeaks have been sighted in your area in the past – they are a year-round species in the northwestern section of NM, though they are “scarce” so it is likely they are just uncommonly seen. When cone crops in northern coniferous forests are poor, Evening Grosbeaks “irrupt” in fall and spend the winter far south of their normal range and Western subspecies migrate to lower elevations for the winter.
As for the bluebird, you are correct you are likely seeing a Mountain Bluebird; they do not typically come to feeders like Western Bluebirds (which have orange on their breast, similar to Eastern Bluebirds). It’s not unusual for them to be traveling alone.
If you have further questions, please email us at or
-Holly Faulkner, Project Assistant

Rick Dorothy says:

March 12th saw on goldfish with eye disease. It was able to feed, but I could tell that it had a problem. It has been around for a couple days. If I knew how to treat it, I would capture it and start treatment. I have been rehabbing wildlife for fifty years but have never seen this condition. I am in southwest michigan.

Lori Thomson says:

We ve got 3 gold finches w crusty closed eyes, is there a treatment ointment to treat this? And is it contagious?

Holly Faulkner, Project Assistant says:

Hi Lori, this strain of conjunctivitis should not be contagious to humans, but it’s always good to clean up after tending to your feeders as there are several other diseases that may be present (i.e. Salmonella, etc.). Only certified wildlife rehabilitators or veterinarians can legally treat wild birds – the best thing you can do is clean your feeders regularly with a bleach solution, making sure to scrub all debris from the feeders while doing so. You can learn more about preventative tips on our Sick Birds and Bird Diseases page. If you’re particularly worried about a bird, call your local wildlife rehabilitator for the best advice.

A gold finch flew into our window and when we went to check on it, the bird was dead. We noticed the right eye was crusty and there was a worm inside the eye.

PJ Garson says:

March 16, 2022
Guilford CT

Goldfinch F
Definite wet left eye with fed ring and inflammation. I think she’d been rubbing it because some of the feather around her eye looked like they were rubbed off. I don’t think she could see out of it either. But not swollen or closed.

I’m going to take down the feeders and the big heated bird bath (i change the water every say ). I’m worried about spreading this if it’s a virus.

Any thoughts?

PJ Garson says:

Sorry, I meant there was a red ring around the goldfinch’s eye

Denise Rix says:

I just seen a goldfinch that had eye disease it looked like a male possibly juvenile at stumpy lake Park in Virginia Beach the one I looked really bad and the other eye has a little red on the top of it so you can tell it’s going into that one as well the poor little thing.

Robin Sells says:

This is the 2nd time in 3 years that we have a goldfinch at our feeder that appears to have an eye disease. The 1st one’s body also became round and fluffy. Today’s Goldie let me get within 4 feet of it as I walked up from its left side and was only startled when I spoke to it. It’s left eye was tan. It flew up to a tree so it must have had vision in it’s right eye.

Heidi Faulkner, Project Assistant says:

Hello Robin, thank you for reaching out. Whenever a sick bird comes to your feeder, we recommend that you remove the feeders the sick bird is using for a couple of weeks to ensure that disease is not being spread at your feeders and to give birds a chance to disperse. While the feeders are down clean your feeders and feeder area thoroughly. Remember that prevention is the key to avoiding the spread of disease. Regularly clean your feeders even when there are no signs of disease. Feel free to check out more on our page on Sick Birds and Bird Diseases.

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