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Patricia Cohn

Albuquerque, NM, United States


House finch with tumor on its forehead, just above the beak. has been at the feeders since Feederwatch started. Was flying and eating pretty good, although last week he seemed to have difficulties flying. Have not seen him this week. It was bitterly cold for Albuquerque last week, and he may not have made it. THere was one other male house finch with a tumor on its head, he was not doing well when I first saw him in late November and I have not seen him since. I did not get a picture of this second bird.




Male House Finch With Tumor

male house finch with tumor above beak

59 replies on “male house finch with tumor”

Brigitte Hawthorne says:

I live in Las Vegas, NV and have noticed about four of my wild house finches with what looks like tumors on them. Two of the little new babies who are getting fed by the parent have tumors directly on the upper beak, one of the babies (who is also being fed by a parent has a tumor on what looks like its cheek below the eye and one of them has the tumor on its feet. These sweet little birds are at the bird feeder every day all day long. What should I do? Any advise?

Cathy Fox says:

We have one male finch Orlando FL with growth directly above beak which is bigger now than May when I noticed.

Carole says:

Since I put bird feeders up in March on my balcony here on the central coast of California, I have been seeing House Finches with ugly growths on their heads, on their throats, and one on a foot. Most are over one eye and so large the birds can not see out of that eye. Sometimes the birds are fluffed up and scraggly as though they do not feel well, and other times they don’t appear effected by the growth at all. The growths appear to be rough and uneven, almost like a wart looks on a human.

Cori Gunnells says:

Friend just called me who is reporting the same – House Finches have been showing up at feeders with tumors around eyes, beaks, and legs. Birds do not appear well, oriented, or able to navigate/fly. Some have died (approx. 4 birds in the past few weeks).
Prescott, Arizona

Tom Willcox says:

Just now when I went outside, a house finch landed on my shoulder, then up to the roof line, where I noticed the growth above and below his beak, and also covering the right eye completely. The poor bird’s head was shaking towards the right side of his body continuously, and he could barely hop in a straight line, let alone fly. I wanted to throw a towel over him and put him out of his misery, but he went off the roof into the blackberries… Very sad. Tom 11/4/15.

Dee says:

I’ve recently seen at least 2 sick finches with tumors on the top of their heads and down towards the beaks. They look almost exactly like the one in the photo from the OP. When I spotted the first one I took the feeder down, cleaned it, and put it back up after waiting a week, per a recommendation I read. I also put up a flat feeder after reading that the feeder openings could become contaminated and contribute to transmitting the disease. I’m not so sure that is safe, either. I think I spotted the original sick bird today, and saw at least one other. One appears to also have a tumor growing on its side, or it could be on a wing–I couldn’t tell.
Albuquerque, NM.

Katie Smith says:

I am seeing this in my house finches as well. I have seen one male who seemed bigger than the others and was obviously unwell. He had growths in his face and on his foot. He could barely fly and didn’t seem to be able to see well. He would also run his face against things. I took the feeders down for a week and soaked them in 10% bleach solution. When I put them back up, after a few days the finches started coming again (the large male hasn’t shown back up). There are some healthy ones but one female with two growths on her upper beak who seems large also and a male whose beak seems deformed. The lower part is squared off and sticks out farther than the top prt of his beak. What is going on with these birds?

Gary Tennant says:

We have a house finch at our feeder with a black growth on his lower beak and what look like scabs on his/her head. Feeding actively from the bottom of the feeder. Active bird.

Kelli Ruge says:

I’m in Charleston SC. We just had a purple Finch in one of our tray feeders shaking, with a large, hard growth at the top of his beak. It seemed to have grown such that he couldn’t close his mouth. He does shortly after we found him. Seems we are finding these from one side of the country to the other. I’m curious if any one is looking into this and it’s cause. We could find no information on this.

Ken Ferrari says:

Seeing the same at our feeder and bath, the last two years.

R. A. says:

I’m in Central Valley , California, and the past few weeks I have seen 4-5 House Finches- I think all females so far- with these black or tan-ish colored tumors or bumps near the tops or sides of their beaks. None on the legs so far. These seem to be growing larger over time. One of these finches also has several feathers on one wing that stick almost straight upward instead of laying down smoothly on the wing. A few of the House Finches seem to be developing little crests on the top of their heads, where the feathers stick up slightly, and I have never seen these before. Not sure if it’s a new arrival or an aberration? Also, there is one scrub jay that has been around for a couple of years who’s beak is so crooked that they are overgrown and point in opposite directions.

Dawn says:

I live in Hoschton Georgia and I am also seeing purple house finches with tumors on their heads and cheeks. It seems to be affecting the females in my area.

Liz Johnson says:

I’m in AZ and I’ve been watching/photographing the birds here for 3+ years… this summer I’ve noticed, what feels like to me, an alarming surge in the tumor like growths on the finches.. (this is the first year I’ve seen it). There has been about ~15 birds riddled with growths that have overtaken eyes, wings, and beaks. They’re fighters.. but still, I feel helpless and am concerned. Does anyone know what is causing this?

Deb Kiser says:

Hi from Fort Collins CO! I just saw two house finches with masses (growths/ tumors) on their foreheads today, and have taken down all my feeders (just yesterday I bought $200 worth of bird food. cleaned all the feeders, and re-filled, ugh!)

One finch had a ~1/2 inch greyish mass (without any feathers on it) that appeared to involve the top part of the cere. That finch looked/ acted normal otherwise. Avian pox virus started in house finches out east and spread across the U.S. recently, and this looked like a typical pox virus infection. I’ve only seen one other house finch 1-2 years ago that might(?) have had pox virus. It was not acting normally (did not fly away when I approached closely) and died a few hours later. I saw several 1/16-1/8 inch mild proliferative (maybe a bit “warty”?) growths on its lower legs, and it was very thin (prominent keel bone) but nothing otherwise.

The second finch I saw today looked very unthrifty with feathers ruffled, and had a ~1/3- 1/2 inch mass on the forehead extending from behind the cere back to the area between the eyes. At first glance it looked like a “crest”, because the feathers on the mass were standing up, but with binoculars I could tell it was a mass. It didn’t appear to involve the cere as far as I could tell, but I can’t be sure. The beak did not appear to be affected, and I couldn’t see any obvious masses elsewhere, although its ruffled feathers looked irregular/ patchy, standing up more over the left wing area than elsewhere. It ate for quite awhile from the bottom tray of a screen type cylinder finch feeder, instead of clinging to the screen as they usually do. It seemed to fly normally, and was able to perch on a branch. I’m really not sure what was affecting this second finch. My understanding is that avian pox virus causes warty/ scaly growths on the areas without feathers, such as the legs, the eyelids, and the cere. I don’t know if pox virus ever affects feathered areas. Perhaps someone out there knows?

Priya says:

I live in Seattle and just saw a male house finch with a large tumor (or some kind of growth) where the forehead meets the beak. He comes to the feeder and seems to guard it, but then flies away. The finches come to the feeder but haven’t noticed this before. Should we clean the feeder or be worried about this finch spreading something?

Richard Harris says:

In the last couple weeks I have found four dead house finches by my backyard feeder in Rio Rancho/Mariposa, NM. Each has had a hard tumor like growth near/on/or below it’s beak.

Sue says:

In RaMona Ca.
Been seeing more n more of my birds, I think finch, looks like first post.
Males have read heards, females don’t.
I’ve taken pictures of both male and females, with huge goths on the sides of thier heads, one had a deformed beak.
They seemed more aggressive that the other birds.
Moses of the other birds give these wart covered birds the space when feeding.
All other birds look good only the red headed breed seems to be affected.

I have noticed a male house finch with a large tumor on his chest. I live near Duracell, and figured the chemicals must be getting into the water.

Adina Kelley says:

I was able to catch a male goldfinch off my bird feeder who was suffering from large growths around his eye and face. I took pics and sent them to my daughter who works as a med room supervisor at the bird center in Boise, ID. She told me that it was avian pox and to have the bird euthed right away and to take down my feeders in disinfect them. Very sad.

Terri Adams Perry says:

I am also in Rio Rancho, NM and have spotted a male house finch with a tumor near it’s eye, at my feeder. :'(

Cindy V says:

Very sad. I just saw two (purple?) finches at my feeders today, for the first time, with growths on their face, around the beak, cere and eye. One had a growth on the top of the head. I will take down my feeders and disinfect. Thanks for the info.

Stella says:

I live in sierra national forest and a male house finch at our feeder with what looked like a head size tumor on his upper left side. What is happening, is it contagiuos?

Holly Faulkner says:

For more information please visit our Sick Birds and Bird Diseases page:
-Holly Faulkner, Project Assistant

Jan Cordell says:

I live in Glendale AZ and have what appears to be a male house finch with a tumorous growth extending from the top of his beak to his forehead. I have only seen him in the last month, but the growth is quite large.

Kristel Van Assche says:

Las Vegas, NV here… noticing the same problem with the red-breasted finches in my yard, having what looks like a tumor at the base of their bills. One hangs out often, doesn’t seem scared of me and because I’m able to approach up to a few feet, I can see that this little guy also has lost most of his feathers on his head and neck. So sad.

Edna says:

I live in Southern California in the Los Angeles area. I have been feeding birds on my condo porch for almost two years. About a year ago, there was one finch female that seemed to have a growth on her left eye – she was always fluffed up and scraggly. In the past week currently, there have been two finches (not sure of gender or age) with tumours: one with a growth on the top of its beak and the other with a growth on its leg. Large, black, round, bumpy growths. I Googled “birds with tumours” and this site came up. I am shocked at the long list of reports over the recent years. Something is going on.

Holly Faulkner, Project Assistant says:

Hi Edna,
House Finch Eye Disease has been present in House finches since 1994, and by participating in FeederWatch, we can help track it’s spread. For more information visit our Sick Birds and Bird Diseases webpage ( or View more information on characteristics and the history of House Finch Eye Disease in particular here:

Andrea Devlin says:

Avain pox looks like a large round bump (could look like a tumor) and they grow on unfeathered areas of the body (eyes, beak, legs, etc) they are HIGHLY contagious to other birds, so if you see one bird at your feeder with pox, you need to take your feeder down for at least 2 weeks to allow the birds to stay away from each other and minimize the spread of the disease. Any surface that an infected bird comes into contact with is now infected too. The surfaces and the feeder should be cleaned with 9 parts water to 1 part bleach and be COMPLETELY dry in order to be disinfected.

Faith says:

Another house finch in Albuquerque, NM with a large tumor on her “cheek.” It’s grown noticeably in just two weeks, but she’s eating well and acting otherwise OK. Wish I could just snip it off.

Cathy says:

Tucson Arizona – Gold Finch with a bulge on cheek .
Eating , drinking , flying okay . Have had a thistle feeder up for 15 years and this is the first finch I’ve seen w/ this .

Julie Sharpe says:

Peoria, AZ- counting 6 house finch with tumors in various places: beak, eyes, legs
Also a dove with a tumor on its back and today I saw a pigeon wobbling on my front line and walked right up and picked him up. No noticeable injuries but he’s unbalanced. What is going on?

Holly Faulkner, Project Assistant says:

Hi Julie, Birds can suffer from numerous different diseases. It’s hard to tell what is going on exactly with your birds without appropriate testing, but our best advice is to do your best to prevent the spread of disease. To do this, make sure you are cleaning your feeders weekly to biweekly. Be sure to scrub off all debris with soap and hot water, and then soak feeders in a bleach solution. Be sure to rinse all of the bleach off and let dry completely before you refill with seed.

maya says:

In East Los Angeles, CA. Over the last few weeks I’ve been seeing multiple house finches at the feeder with bumps atop their heads, the skin wasn’t visible but there was a bump there. Today I saw a female with a large pink uncovered bump/bulge on her cheek. She was eating normally and it didn’t seem to bother her, but it resonates with all of the reports in this thread.

M says:

I just found a baby goldfinch with a lump on its neck.. Seeing all these reports of tumor-like growths on birds, especially the more recent prevalence of them, makes me wonder if it isn’t related to the environment rather than a disease… I’m curious, how many of you who see a large number of lumpy or dead birds use chemicals on your lawn and garden or have neighbors who avidly use pesticides and herbicides? These things are known to cause tumors in humans and other animals, and it’s very likely these birds are being exposed to the toxins either from eating infected plants and insects or simply from the drift…

Holly Faulkner, Project Assistant says:

Hi M, Birds have to potential to attract a multitude of diseases, and many diseases can cause tumors or growths. Anytime you see a sick bird, it’s best to clean your feeders, and you should continue doing so regularly in order to help prevent the spread of disease. And, of course, always practice good hygiene after touching the feeders. Check out our Sick Birds and Bird Diseases page to learn more, and to learn the best way to clean your feeders. If you are particularly concerned about an individual bird, call your local wildlife rehabilitator, or wildlife veterinarian for the best advice before acting. Of course, pesticides and herbicides are not conducive to a healthy feeding environment for your birds either, and we do not recommend using them on your property.

larry kurtz says:

Rural Santa Fe County, New Mexico: numerous house finches at our feeders have nodules on their foreheads .

Tal says:

We have a single male finch with tumors around his beak and right eye. We live in Oklahoma City. We will remove our feeders and disinfect. Thanks for your info on this forum.

Shannon says:

NE GA here. I’ve been watching a female finch trying to figure out if it’s a different variety or just my bad eyesight. Got binoculars out today, she indeed has a big growth at the top of forehead above eyes. Like a feather plume. She feeds fine, looks healthy and not any more aggressive than the other birds. So sad. Guess what I’ll be doing this weekend! Cleaning out the feeders

Kim S says:

What I believe to be a finch at my fountain has a lump where his beak meets his forehead here in Idaho. Seems fairly active? Does anyone know if it is a cancer or a viral condition? Thank you.

Holly Faulkner, Project Assistant says:

Hi Kim, Diseases can be hard to diagnose without professional help, however, anytime you see a sick bird the best thing to do is to take your feeders down and clean them. Cleaning them regularly (every 1-2 weeks) is the best way to prevent disease, even when you see no sick birds. You can learn more about bird diseases and how best to clean your feeders here.

Joan Green says:

We have noticed numerous White Crowned Sparrows and a few House Finches with tumors covering their faces where an eye should be. I found a recently dead sparrow and the tumor it hard and covered the entire area from the beak to the forehead. This is out in the Sonoran Desert at Roosevelt Lake in Arizona where we are camp hosts. These birds seem to survive for a short time but we find them dead frequently.

Aina says:

I am in West Hills CA, and I have seen now 4 gold finches with tumors on their heads. They eventually die. (2 have died) it’s as if the tumor scrambles their brain because they do not fly away when you approach. Just now I had one sitting on my water fountain, just looking at me. I dropped som nyjer seeds by its feet. But then it flew away. I have been worried that the nyjer seeds I purchase might be sprayed with pesticide and that this over time affects some of the birds.. I have probably close to 50 birds feeding every day so my feeder being filled in the mornings, is empty by 4 pm, so I know it’s not a matter of spoiled or old seeds… They are eating me broke…LOL….anyway….any thoughts on the seeds/pesticide combo? Is there nyjer seeds out there that for sure have not been sprayed with anything??

Holly Grant, Project Assistant says:

Hi Aina, These tumors you report could be caused by disease, especially as the birds are exhibiting lethargy. Anytime you see a sick bird, it’s best to take your feeders down for a few days and clean them, and clean any bird baths. Cleaning feeders regularly (every 1-2 weeks) is the best way to prevent the spread of disease, even when you see no sick birds. You can learn more about bird diseases and how best to clean your feeders here. As for pesticides, I am not aware of a pesticide-free source of bird seed. Pesticides are most harmful to birds when they are being applied in widespread spraying and when they reduce the number of insects birds need to survive. Given that most feeder birds are faring better than non-feeder birds, any harm caused by the presence of pesticides in bird seed is most likely minimal. If you have more questions, please email These comment sections are not regularly monitored.

Mads says:

Hi! For the past few days I’ve been noticing birds coming to the feeder that have large tumors on their feet as well as some with large tumors on the tops of their heads (I thought at first these were feather crests). We live in East L.A. I took the feeders down today, washed them, and soaked them in bleach. We’ve had a feeder in the kitchen window for years, but I’ve never seen anything like this. We’re also having a massive heat wave, so maybe that’s making things worse.

Lucy says:

Seeing a lot of them up here in Mt Washington at our feeder/bath right now. Already three today! Two. With growths on head and one with big growth on foot. Should I take everything down? I make a big effort to clean feeder and water and replace frequently.

Holly Grant, Project Assistant says:

Hi Lucy, Anytime you see a sick bird in your yard, it’s best to take your feeders down for a few days and clean them. Cleaning them regularly (every 1-2 weeks) is the best way to prevent disease, even when you see no sick birds. You can learn more about bird diseases and how best to clean your feeders here.

Carol says:

Seeing a lot of house finches with growths on their legs, wings, and heads, have taken down feeders and bleached. I live in Boise Idaho.

J Lee says:

Are they tumours or avian pox? I see a couple of house finches with them too. Does anyone know for certai. What they are?

Lucy says:

I would like to know the same thing!

AmyS says:

Goldfinch coming to feeder with bump on top of his forehead. Nearby I was walking my dog and a sparrow was sitting on sidewalk looking at us and wouldn’t move when my dog approached.

Holly Grant, Project Assistant says:

Hi Amy, Anytime you see a sick bird in your yard, it’s best to take your feeders down for a few days and clean them. Cleaning them regularly (every 1-2 weeks) is the best way to prevent disease, even when you see no sick birds. You can learn more about bird diseases and how best to clean your feeders here.

Greta says:

Tujunga, CA (Los Angeles) – I had a house finch at my feeder today with a very large growth near his left eye. He definitely ultra couldn’t see out of his left eye. It was nearly as large as his beak. Another bird had a growth on his beak. We’ve seen more than a few birds with various pinkish growths on their feet, but these darker, wart like growths were different. Is this what is killing songbirds out east? Has it traveled to the West Coast?

Holly Grant, Project Assistant says:

Hi Greta, It’s not uncommon for birds to grow tumors. The disease in the east was mostly neurological, has since waned, and most states have retracted their feeder bans. You can learn more about it here. Whenever you see a sick bird, even if it only has tumors, it’s best to take your feeders down for a few days and clean them. Cleaning them regularly (every 1-2 weeks) is the best way to prevent disease, even when you see no sick birds. You can learn more about bird diseases and how best to clean your feeders here.

Jean says:

I am on the inner banks of North Carolina. I had a mourning dove with a huge tumor on its beak a couple months ago. It was so sad trying to eat and then just didn’t come back. Now I have a sparrow with just the worst bleeding black tumors all over its feet. It was eating and drinking but obviously in pain. I love watching birds but about to stop feeding. No way to help them. Makes me so sad.

Holly Grant, Project Assistant says:

Hi Jean, Anytime you see a sick bird, it’s best to take your feeders down for a few days and clean them. Cleaning them regularly (every 1-2 weeks) is the best way to prevent disease, even when you see no sick birds. You can learn more about bird diseases and how best to clean your feeders here.

Mary clasen says:

We have a finch at our feeder with a large growth on his head. he seems to be functioning, eating and drinking and socializing. there was also a dead finch with no signs of violence. We have so many it’s hard to know if this is connected? Any thoughts?

Heidi Faulkner, Project Assistant says:

Hello Mary. Thanks for reaching out. It’s hard to say for sure what would be the cause of the finch’s death, as things like illness, window strikes, etc can happen. If you are seeing signs of illness in other finches, we recommend taking feeders down for a few days to allow sick birds the chance to disperse. If and when you put them back up, we also recommend regularly cleaning feeders to help prevent the spread of illness. Please note that you can still participate in the Project without feeders, as native shrubs and plants and water features can also attract birds to your yard.

merrilee elizalde says:

I’ve reached out locally and nationally to get advice on the finches I’m seeing at my feeder. At first I was seeing house finches with tumors on one or both feet, Yesterday it was a house finch with a tumor on it’s head, above the beak near the left eye. It seems to be female finches every time. I keep taking my feeders down, bleaching them, waiting a week, then I put them back up and there’s another finch with a tumor. I’m wasting quite a bit of food, and I wish I knew what they were sick with. I have very clear pictures from the camera on my feeder, but no one is getting back to me. Sounds like it would be impossible to diagnose from just a picture though, so I’ll keep taking them down and putting them back up.

Tara N says:

I’m in Charleston, SC and have been seeing a sweet Carolina Chickadee with a smooth, rounded, pink tumor on his left shoulder.

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