Thursday, February 14, 2008

Yard Eco

I'd noticed him once before, several days ago. This afternoon, he returned to the feeder. He is a male house finch who looks to be in the throes of conjunctivitis. On my first sight of him, I noticed his left eye looked swollen and a bit crusty. Today, I got a better look. The left eye was definitely in the thick of it; it was partly filmed over and at times oozed a yellowish discharge. The finch blinked much more than usual.

On the brighter side, he still looked fat and stalwart and seemed to be able to fly all right. I got a look at his right eye; it appeared clear. Maybe not an ideal situation for aviation, but at least it hadn't grounded him yet. As I understand it, the conjunctivitis itself isn't fatal, but can lead to fatality if it grounds the bird or prevents it from foraging. I'll be keeping an eye on this guy. He looks to be the type that could ride it out if his eyes don't become completely obfuscated.

Just to be on the safe side, though, I gave the perch a good thorough swabbing down with vinegar. I don't want the infection to spread if I can avoid it. Recently we've been inundated by a small flock of goldfinches; fortunately, they seem to prefer the finch sock I put out to the feeder. As they are also suceptible, that's just as well.

The goldfinches threw me at first. I looked out the window one morning, and there was what looked to be yellowish warbler. I had a hard time getting a good look; I thought at first it might be a pine warbler. But getting out the binocs threw me. There were patches of black on the bird's brow! After several of them started showing up, there wasn't room for them all to hide behind the sock and I was able to get a positive ID. The goldfinches are in winter plumage right now, but some of them are starting to turn. That explains those wacky black patches.

Late last summer we had a goldfinch trio stop by for a while. One of the males was leg-banded; so I've been scrutinizing the gang that's here now for a banded bird. I haven't seen him, though. At any rate, it's a nice-sized little group; we've counted up to eight at a time with at least two that look to be changing to mature male breeding plumage.

I put out some lettuce plants last weekend, and some radish and beet seeds. We'll see if the beets get to any size worth picking before the heat kills them. At least the bunny likes the leaves. No sooner had I put in the lettuces than the wind picked up and the temperature plummeted. I'm hoping they didn't take it too badly. They weren't looking great this morning, but perhaps the watering will help.

This weekend, I have some onion sprouts of Vidalia stock to plant. I've never tried them before; we'll see what comes of them.

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