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The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

Taking Care of a Bird in Need

Posted by | November 2, 2018 | Filed under: Culture

Last week, Michelle and Jeremy across the lawn in the Coastal Ecology Center discovered a male house finch sitting on the grass outside their research office windows. Michelle called me to say that the bird appeared to be blind. It flew into the building’s siding when it was alarmed by the sound of her feet, seemingly not able to see where it was flying. She wondered if there was something we could do.

Caryn and I walked over to assess the situation. Something definitely wasn’t quite right with this finch! Its eyes seemed to be closed in a strange way and didn’t open for the ten minutes or so of our observations. Nor did it move, despite our close proximity. We worried that the finch would starve like this, unable to find food. Time to jump into action!

I always carry an animal crate, blanket, and gloves in my trunk. It’s my “just in case I come upon an animal in need” kit and I’ve put it to use many times over the years. I was able to get the finch into the crate and into my car, and made the drive to Center for Wildlife (CFW) in York while keeping my car’s interior as quiet and calming as possible. CFW is a gem of a resource for our community, treating thousands of wild animals in need of care each year.

After a quick preliminary exam with the finch, CFW staff informed me that he was suffering from house finch eye disease. Evidently, this is a common problem when homeowners don’t clean their bird feeders regularly. Although the Reserve doesn’t have bird feeders, surely some of our neighbors within finch flying distance do. I was not aware of this myself, but feeder cleaning is actually recommended once every couple of weeks. 

I called CFW earlier this week to get an update and am thrilled to report that the finch is doing well, eating and reacting well to their eye treatments. They are hopeful that he will be able to return to the wild in a few weeks!

So, if you don’t currently clean your feeders regularly, please do! It will help to prevent diseases from impacting our avian friends. And, if you are in need of birdseed, our annual seed sale in partnership with York County Audubon is in full swing, with pre-order pickup times next week.

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