At 12:00 AM 2/9/2006, you wrote:
>tired (?) redpolls (3)
I have received a few phone calls about sick redpolls at feeders this
week and now I see several messages on the list serves.
There are several possibilities, including aflatoxins (nasty
poisonous byproducts of fungal growth on seeds), salmonella (which
can thrive on spilled seed on the ground after a winter thaw or two),
and aspergillosis (a disease caused by fungus growing on inner
tissues, especially lungs and airsacs). Most sick birds fluff up
their feathers and act lethargic--the feather fluffing is a
physiological response to poor temperature regulation during any
illness or injury.
If you detect sick birds at your feeder, it's always a good idea to
take your feeders in, clean them thoroughly with 10% solution of
household bleach, rake up waste seed and dispose of it, and keep your
feeding station closed for a week or two. Even if the birds are not
getting sick from your feeders or seed, tight flocks at a good
feeding station may foster disease transmission among them. Redpolls,
siskins, and goldfinches are flocking species, so diseases spread
rapidly among them even in natural situations, but it's much better
for us and the birds to not provide even the possibility of diseases
at our feeders.
Excellent web page for avian disease at feeders from Project
Here is a document from Canada on avian salmonella -
Good, short article on same from WI -
If you see any House Finches or American Goldfinches with crusted
eyes, please share your information with
<http://www.birds.cornell.edu/hofi/?lk=news>Cornell's House Finch
Please keep reporting any sick birds at your feeders so we can track
and monitor this problem.