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Old Feb 8, 2006, 9:38 AM   #1
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Most of you probably know this and already do this, but just in case someone might just be putting out feeders for the sake of getting some good bird shots and don't take the bird feeding itself seriously or just may not be aware of this, I'll say it anyway.

PLEASE take your bird feeding seriously! First of all... ALWAYS provide water nearby. The feeders and baths MUST be cleaned regularly or this will cause disease... and it WILL spread among the birds.

I use 9 parts water to 1 part bleach (and a good stiff bristled brush) for cleaning and I do this once a week during the busy months of winter. In the less busy months of winter I clean every two weeks with the bleach solution. I don't even feed the birds in the summer as they seldom visit the feeder and the seed molds more often.


Here's a great link with cleaning instructions for seed feeders and hummingbird feeders as well. Please read and follow their suggestions... otherwise you may not have all these pretty birds to photograph.

http://www.birds.cornell.edu/program...intenance.html

And just to show you how serious this issue is... here's a pic of a Goldfinch with a conjunctivitis disease... appears to be the early stages. It will get worse and he will not live long as a result. This disease DOES spread among the other Goldfinches and can spread through dirty feeders. House Finches have also been know to have it as well as some other species. So PLEASE CLEAN YOUR FEEDERS AND BIRD BATHS REGULARLY!






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Old Feb 8, 2006, 10:57 AM   #2
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Thanks.
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Old Feb 8, 2006, 4:28 PM   #3
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Iam postingthis same thing on all the photography and gardening sites I visit. You'd be surprised at how many people aren't aware of thiswho don't ever clean their feeders. I just hope to make folks aware and maybe by doing so,decrease the occurance of this horrible disease.
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Old Feb 8, 2006, 11:03 PM   #4
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I got a great response to this post on the other photography website I visit. A lot of folks weren't aware of this and vowed they would begin to clean their feeders immediately. Ihopethe lack of response heremeanseveryoneis already doing so. Can't believe no one here has any sympathy for the poor little birdie whose days are numbered due to this disease. Come on guys... where's the support?
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Old Feb 8, 2006, 11:51 PM   #5
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I've two things to add.
1) I've heard some people say that this problem doesn't kill the bird. I've heard others say that it can. I don't know which is true.

2) Either way, you should take care of your feeder. Because you are exactly correct that it can be spread by unclean feeders. And deadly or not, it is a problem and it should be dealt with. Some feeder designs are less likely to spread it from bird to bird, others are more likely to do it. I believe it centers around feeders where the bird puts their head into something and therefor can rub up against the feeder. Simple tube feeders with a small holes (like for thisle or single sun flowers) are less of a problem. But many feeders (this includes some tube designs) where there is a hole for the entire head (and not just the beak) are a problem. Here are examples:

http://www.massaudubon.org/shop/feeders.php
The top left and top right feeders are a probelm (I own one similar to the left one.) The bottom one isn't a problem because there is only a small hole for the beak.) They need regular cleaning.

http://www.duncraft.com/merchant.iht...156&step=4
This is a bad one, see the big openings that they stick their head in? It requires regular cleaning.

http://www.duncraft.com/merchant.iht...156&step=4
This is a good one. You can't see the holes (they are too small) but they are there and only fit the beak. You should still clean this one, but it is much less likely to transmit it from bird to bird.

And here is a more explicit image of a bird with this problem:




Eric

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Old Feb 9, 2006, 7:38 AM   #6
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Eric... I'm surprised that bird still has use of his eyes... many of them lose their eyesight entirely. Here's some good pics showing some severe cases. I've seen the goldfinches here last year with one eye totally crusted over.

http://www.birds.cornell.edu/hofi/recognizing.html

Also, one of the goldfinches I saw last year with the disease was being shunned and pecked on by the other goldfinches. I suppose they knew he was sick and wanted nothing to do with him.

From my reading, the disease itself may not directly cause death, BUT studies show that many of the infected birds have significant weight loss (20 to 25 percent) which makes them more suceptible to other problems/illnesses. But the biggest issue is loss of vision... which definitely makes them vulnerable to predators. Either way, their life span is generally shortened due to this disease. And anything we can do to prevent it NEEDS to be done.
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Old Feb 9, 2006, 7:54 AM   #7
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My wife manages our feeders. A while ago she read about this issue and has been cleaning our feeders ever since. Thanks for taking the initiative on this.
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Old Feb 9, 2006, 8:57 AM   #8
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Thanks so much for the response/support! Since seeing my first infected Goldfinch this year, I've made it my mission to spread the word as much as possible. Everysmall step we take to make others aware just might make a huge difference after it's all added up.
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Old Feb 9, 2006, 9:10 AM   #9
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I just contacted a friend who knows more about these issues.

Here is a link with more info about this problem of these birds, and other problems:

http://www.massaudubon.org/Nature_Co...Info&id=35

In the case of my titmouse images, it is almost certainly a parasites that destroys the feathers and the bird will be fine in a few weeks. But as that page says, there are definitely other feeder-spread things that will kill the birds.

The link you provided to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is more about Avian Conjunctivitis, which the bird I posted definitely doesn't have. The image you posted of the goldfinch does look like it might have it. That is a much worse condition.

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Old Feb 9, 2006, 9:38 AM   #10
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Eric, I sent apic similar to the one aboveto Cornell last year and they verified it wasmost definitely the Mycoplasmal Conjunctivitis... also sometimes referred to as the 'House Finch Disease' asit was first noted to be a major issue with House Finches. I've never seen a House Finch with it here... only the Goldfinches. As I mentioned before, I had one last year whose eye was totally crusted over. Fortunately, he still had use of the other eye at that time.

I had a junco the other day also that was questionable. I don't think it was conjunctivitis... I think it's more likely an infection from the tick thatappears to belocated justbehind the eye. But I'm going to send it to Cornell for them to view anyway... just in case. Isent them to a local ornithologist who said it's more than likely an infection from the tick, butthat it COULD possibly be the conjunctivitis. Here's a couple of pics of the Junco.






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