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Jessica Ritchie

Norfolk, VA, USA


I noticed this female gold finch sitting isolated on the bird bath for a while, and was troubled that she didn’t seem to notice me at the door watching her. She is isolated from the other birds and barely able to fly. Her eyes are almost closed shut, and she rubs them constantly. She is part of a sick flock of 12 Goldfinches that have “camped out” at my feeders over the weekend. Usually the Goldfinches come and go without staying for hours at a time, so this is unusual behavior. Using binoculars, I discovered that at least 4 of the finches show signs of the eye disease. I disinfected the feeders with a bleach solution and kept them down for a few days, but the Goldfinches returned as soon as I put them back up. So far, the Housefinches using the feeder do not show signs of the disease.


Eye problems

Goldfinch With Advanced Eye Disease

Female Gold Finch with advanced eye disease.

2 replies on “Goldfinch with Advanced Eye Disease”

Marilyn G says:

September 13th, 2019

I have a male goldfinch in my feeders who appears to have red eye disease. I noticed him specifically because he is having difficulty flying.

Is there anything I can do to help this little guy?

I have taken down the feeders and baths, cleaned them with bleach and soap solutions, and I’ll keep the feeders down for a few days as suggested.
I have never noticed this in my area and I have been feeding backyard birds for years.

The only major change is an influx of rock pigeons (about 40) that unfortunately, are very dirty.

Could this be a factor in the eye disease I’ve observed in this little finch?
The droppings from the rock pigeons require me to clean the areas every few days.

I appreciate any advice that may save the little finch.

Holly Faulkner, Project Assistant says:

Hi Marilyn, The best thing to do when you see a sick bird is to clean your feeders, and take them down for a few days. There’s no foolproof way to keep sick birds from visiting your feeders as they can also catch diseases from others in nature, and at other feeders they visit, but regularly cleaning the feeders can help prevent the spread of disease. Currently, House Finch Eye Disease has only been reported in finch species, but there are several other diseases that birds can contract. Take a look at our Sick Birds and Bird Diseases web page for more information and tips, and be sure not to handle or treat the bird yourself; only certified wildlife rehabilitators can legally do so.

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