Monday, September 24, 2007

Finch Eye Disease Survey - Birds Need Your Help!

This is the time of year we are seeing a lot of migrating finches. House Finches were the first species to have a deadly problem with conjunctivitis. It has now spread to the American Goldfinch (see photo) and other species.

Cornell University has been tracking this for many years. Now with avian flu being linked to humans, it is important to continue the tracking of the Finch Disease.

Sick birds have swollen, weepy, irritated, or crusted-over eyes. Symptoms are easily discerned and the disease poses no risk to humans. Participants help to track the spread of this disease which gives "science" valuable data.

Will birds become resistant to the bacterium? Why are there seasonal fluctuations in disease prevalence? Will the disease spread to other species? Do localized "mini-epidemics" of this disease occur?

This American Goldfinch came through our backyard and although I try to capture the birds and take them to be humanely put down at The Wildlife Center, I could not get more than a photo of this one. Not all of them look this bad.

You can be a key to helping these and other birds that the disease may spread to, by simply observing your backyard birds and reporting to Cornell online or by mail. You can learn more of the identifying signs and get more information at Cornell Online.

Together we can make a difference for the birds and humans.

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