Much to the dismay of the local House Finches, I had to take the bird feeders down for a few days. I saw a couple of birds exhibiting signs of the finch eye disease, which can quickly spread when they congregate together. And boy, do they congregate. It’s been a non-stop Finch party at both feeders all summer, which is the off-season for backyard birds generally, so the Finch can elbow the few remaining mainstay birds to the sidelines.
Their eye disease isn’t nearly as widespread among other birds, and some birds don’t seem to be susceptible at all, but I don’t want our feeders to become known as the index case for this outbreak. We saw it last summer and fall as well, and the only remedy was to remove the feeders for a while (and keep them clean when they’re up, which I attend to faithfully), as recommended by Project Feederwatch. The finches will then disperse, reducing their points of contact by not spending the whole afternoon jostling for a good spot at the feeder.
It wasn’t just the finches that dispersed, of course. Even the ground feeders like Junco and Towhee have moved on. We may need to look into supporting them through some other feeding mechanism. Sounds like another visit to the Bird Store will be necessary.