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Another Little Patient

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

She was blind, or very nearly so, and I'd been watching her for a couple of weeks, waiting for the moment when she'd be so debilitated she gave up and sat on the ground. That moment came on a brutally cold morning after a snowy night. As I went to fill the feeders, there she sat, quietly on the snow at the base of a birch. She had given up.

I have no photos of the moment, but this is what she looked like--her eyes pasted shut on both sides.

This poor little creature has taken a sunflower heart from the feeder, and brought it up to the chamaecyparis just outside my studio window to process it. She's too weak to compete at the bustling feeders.

 She can see just enough through one slitted eye to avoid capture. Her time will come. I hope I'm there when it does.

What's felling these birds is Mycoplasma, a dread infection better known as house finch disease. And we have house finches to thank for introducing it into the general population of native species. Not their fault--we brought them to the East back in the dark ages, when keeping wild birds in cages was an accepted practice. And when they were released, a tiny founder population of perhaps a hundred birds escaping their crate at a New York airport, they bred and bred. But they were inbred, and they had no natural resistance to the germs they found here. And so it began.

Now, Mycoplasma stalks more than a dozen species, and the list is growing--everything from goldfinches to blue jays.

This bird was incredibly lucky to be picked up by somebody with a $75 bottle of an antibiotic called Tylan, and the resolve to cure her.

She would live in a roomy cage in my bat/bird room for the next three weeks, drinking water laced with bitter Tylan and sweetened with Stevia. :) It helps. 

She hated being caged.

Most of the time she looked like this

but every once in awhile I could sneak into the corner with my telephoto and hope to capture her at rest. Yes, her tail is a mess thanks to bashing it against the wires. Ideally, she should be kept in a nylon, soft-sided cage. I'll get there. Still hobbling along with my archaic old equipment. Trying to do no harm, sometimes failing. Believe it or not, I was able to preen it back into near- perfect shape when I finally caught her for release. No feathers were broken; they were just mussed.

She pigged out on sunflower chips and drank copious amounts of Tylan/Stevia water. Good girl.

For some reason, Blogger gags on my videos. I'll post one, and it's there. Post another, and the first one disappears. Trying to post two at once is nearly impossible. I'll beat my head against Blogger's wall for hours, trying to get these videos to take.

Trying again, after both vanished. Yep. Soon as I get one posted, the other vanishes. Man, that's frustrating. I'm gonna post this quick while they're still both visible. Thought you'd be lifted up, as I am, by the little perchicoree! she voices as I open my hand. She did say thank you. :)

I'm speaking twicet at Wings of Winter Festival, Klamath Falls, OR, this coming weekend, Feb. 15-16 2019! Talking about a snowy owl's crazy journey on Friday, and about baby birds on Saturday. I cannot WAIT. Haven't been anywhere for months. And the birding there is off the hook fabulous! Come see me! See left sidebar of this blog for details!


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And wow, Mrs Jane Loris from Florida loves your videos!

Always nice to see you healing birds struck down by the dreaded Mycoplasma sp.!

I have a dead one in my garage. Must have had a hawk visit & this one scattered into my window w/ screening over it to prevent such disasters When hungry hawk comes they scatter whichever way they can..

You're in OREGON?!? Where? Can I come hear you talk???

@dguzman, I made MRs. Jane Loris disappear. And not slowly.

@Michelle, I'm speaking at the Wings of Winter festival at Klamath Falls, OR. Giving two talks, one on Friday Feb. 15 and one on Saturday Feb. 16. Hope that's not hopelessly far and snowy for you!! Would lurrve to meet ya!

See left sidebar of my blog for details!


Well shoot; K Falls is a long and snowy drive for me up here in the NW corner. I'll make sure my best blogpal down in that area knows, though!

this does lift me up, and in a big way. And I learn so much from your posts. Thank you, and good luck tricking that system into allowing you to post more than 1 video.

Not sure that was gratitude...sounded more like "f*ck you!" ;)

But she's well enough to give you the stink-eye, and that's marvelous.

This is lovely, Julie. 💛

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