Project FeederWatch

Photo Submission

Submitted By

Sandra Waresak

Candler, NC, United States


Northern Cardinal with eye problem. Taken 11/20/13 but first noticed the eye on 11/5/13.

Had a lot of house finches with conjunctivitis (?) this past summer, some slowly declined and eventually died. Noticed 1 or 2 cardinals with same eye issue this summer, but they seemed to heal.

Also, had 3 cardinals with ‘baldness’ to some degree or another this summer. Those cardinals have either regrown their feathers or are gone.


Eye problems

Northern Cardinal Eye Disease

Recent Comments (20)

  • amanda says:

    2 Male cardinals spotted with the eye disease. The first had balding; I believe it’s possible that the second is the baby of the first. No balding yet on the possible offspring. Haven’t seen “Baldy” in months.

  • R.P. Lewis says:

    I just noticed a male cardinal by my feeder that had white circles around his eyes,the first time I’ve seen this.

  • I photographed a male cardinal with similar eye problems yesterday (Jan. 18, 2018). Derby, KS

  • Chris says:

    I have photos and video of a cardinal with apparent partial blindness and what looks to be drainage around his eyes. We’ve seen some purple finches in the past (a couple of years now) with similar eyes and partial blindness. Is there anything we can or need to do? Especially to prevent further spread if this is an infection.

    • Holly Faulkner says:

      Hi Chris,
      Please be sure to regularly clean your feeders (even if there is no sign of the disease) and be aware not to touch or care for the bird yourself – a local wildlife rehabilitator is a good contact to have if you are concerned for the bird’s wellbeing. Please see our Sick Birds and Diseases page for more information about steps you can take.
      Best, Holly Faulkner, Project Assistant

  • I have a few Cardinals that seem to have a yellow puffiness around their eyes and they don’t seem to be seeing clearly

  • I have just witnessed a male cardinal with yellow crusty circles around each eye in our fly-through feeder. I am not sure if this is a new bird or one of our regulars but this condition is very evident and I think I would have noticed it before this if it is one of the regulars. He has been back to visit every evening this week. SO SAD!

  • Cynthia Griffis says:

    very similar to what a couple of my cardinals have. They are not seeing clearly as they allow me to come up to the window and they are on the feeder near the window. Otherwise they would fly off.

  • Cyrus Tkacik says:

    2/9/2019 We’ve spotted two cardinals, one male and one female.

  • Cmpink says:

    I’ve seen several house finches with conjunctivitis at my feeders, but I didn’t realize it could spread to the cardinals. Just saw a male cardinal with one eye swollen almost completely shut, similar to the bird in OP’s pics.

    I have gone through several rounds of disinfecting my feeders and leaving them down for weeks at a time, but I can’t seem to rid my yard of sick birds.

    I don’t know what to do at this point. My cat and I really enjoy watching the birds but I feel so guilty for spreading disease!

    • Holly Faulkner, Project Assistant says:

      Hello, Thanks for taking the time to disinfect your feeders! You sound like you’re doing everything you can to help the birds at your feeders; you shouldn’t feel guilty. Keep in mind that while feeders are one spot where disease can be spread, there are several other areas that birds congregate where disease can be transmitted. The best you can do is keep your feeder area clean. If you’re ever particularly worried about a bird, we recommend calling your local wildlife rehabilitator for advice. You can learn more on our Sick Birds and Bird Diseases webpage.

  • Kathryn Strzelecki says:

    There is a female cardinal that eats the peanuts I leave for the crows. She has a growth on the side of her head. At first I thought it may have been an ear but it seems to be getting bigger. Its kind of yellow or light orange. I hope its not something that will kill her. Any ideas what it might be? A parasite maybe?

    • Holly Faulkner, Project Assistant says:

      Hi Kathryn, There are several different types of diseases that birds can contract – you can learn more about common diseases on our Sick Birds and Bird Diseases web page, though this is not an exhaustive list. Make sure to clean your feeders regularly to help prevent the spread of disease. More info on cleaning is also on that web page.

  • Debbie J Knebel says:

    Yikes, sick female cardinal at our feeder. I have two chickens and am now concerned. Any advice have pictures that are shot thru screen so they aren’t very good.

    • Holly Faulkner, Project Assistant says:

      Hi Debbie, If you see a sick bird, we recommend cleaning your feeders. We have guidelines on how to do so on our Sick Birds and Bird Diseases and Safe Feeding Environment web pages. If you start to see more sick birds, it’s a good idea to remove your feeders for at least a week to help the sick birds disperse. Regardless, regularly cleaning your feeders is the best way to help prevent the disease from spreading.

  • Jonathan Hesser says:

    just witnessed a Cardinal in NC with this

  • Richard Johnson says:

    I found a cardinal this morning on the ground, I just reached down and picked it up. It started to panic when I had it close to my chest. It is acting like it can’t see. What should i do?

    • Holly Faulkner, Project Assistant says:

      Hi Richard, We do not recommend handling sick birds- only federally certified wildlife rehabilitators are legally able to handle and treat wild birds, and some can carry diseases transmittable to humans. Please call your wildlife rehabilitator immediately for advice. Whenever you see a sick bird, the best thing to do is take down your feeders and clean them. Only contact rehabilitators if you’re particularly concerned about an individual. You can find more information on this page.

  • Scott Hinton says:

    Within the span of 10 minutes I’ve had two female cardinals show at my feeders with eye issues. The first had her right eye closed and looked swollen, and she was without a tail, but still able to fly. The second has a left eye that is almost closed with just a small portion showing, but no swelling I can see. No crusty discharge noticeable on either. Both feeding well.

  • Polly Anna says:

    Saw an adult male cardinal with this problem in his left eye at a feeder 2x this week. Location: southside of Richmond, VA.

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