Nature’s way

 _DSC6128                     Goldfinch, sick 2      

The little guy in the above image is sick.  It is also separated from the other American Goldfinches that frequent this feeder.  Goldfinches are highly social birds and will stay together in a group, even though there is a lot of haggling in that group.  This bird cannot keep up with the group and so it got left behind.  It will remain alone until and unless it can recover.

Here at my home in Maine, I have about 20 American Goldfinches that rely on the feeders throughout the winter months. But they are not here continuously, often disappearing for several days and then returning. I have no knowledge of where they go. Their coming and going may be correlated to the advent of winter storms. When they leave they may be simply holding up within thick cover, to avoid the winter elements. The last time I saw the entire group was several days ago, a day after a storm and they did not appear at the feeder until the Sun came out. It seems to me that all of the AGF’s I have here appeared together on that day to feed.  Goldfinches almost always show up in a group.  I have not seen them since.

INFECTED EYE?  But this one bird has remained, not able to go with the group. It is because it has at least temporarily lost some of its eyesight.  Click onto the image and you will be able to see that the tissue around the left eye is very irritated. I question if it has much, if any, sight in this eye. And of course, I hope that it is a temporary ailment. Also, yesterday, as I walked by this feeder, I suddenly realized that there was a bird still perched on the feeder and it did not fly until my face passed within 6 inches of it. It was this little one.

You see, I have to pass right under this feeder when I go to and from my truck. And yesterday, I also saw this bird on the ground, near the feeder. This is a dangerous place to be, especially when I consider that there are a couple of different cats that hunt this area.

For a short time today, this lone Goldfinch will watch the turkeys that just came out of the adjacent woods.  The turkeys came to feed on the sunflower seeds that they already know are under that new snow.  The turkeys have been coming to my feeding stations for a few years now.  Turkeys are VERY strong scratchers.  They use their powerful toes and claws to scratch away surface material, exposing the food sources (usually seeds) that are below.

_Turkeys with goldfinch

                                                                                                                     click image to enlarge

DEPTH PERCEPTION?:    I suspect this American Goldfinch has lost its depth perception, because when it flies, it flies vertically and tentatively, so as to try to decrease its chances of smashing into objects that it would if it travelled horizontally. And then it carefully drifts laterally until it very tentatively settles onto a wire or small branch. Without its normally keen eyesight, this Goldfinch has little confidence in its ability to navigate without crashing. So, this little one’s chances of survival are slim unless it can recover soon.

Usually in these situations the animal simply disappears; so there is no way of knowing if it recovered.

This article was posted Jan 19, 2013.  It is now the afternoon of Jan 20 and I have not seen it yet.

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