Posts Tagged ‘goldfinch’


May 2, 2017

Good that the doves breed all year ’round to keep the predators fed.  Not only the bobcat and snake I showed in my last blog, but the roadrunner that today jumped over my fence to drink from the birdbath.  And yesterday there was a hawk on my neighbor’s fence, Cooper’s I think, although I didn’t get a good look, as when I saw it, it saw me and promptly flew away.

The Goldfinch

On Saturday, when my daughter’s family stopped by, my daughter espied a baby chick on the ground.  We knew it was a goldfinch because a parent was cheeping at us from a tree.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t see a nest to return it to, and the large mesquite out front has been over-trimmed (why do people do that?) so that the branches are 30 feet up, with no way to get to a nest if we’d even seen it.

So… my daughter took it home, filled a container with rags and hamster bedding, made a mash of kitten milk, catfood, and ground seeds, and fed it with a eyedropper. Pretty horrible looking, isn’t it? It doesn’t have flight feathers, and it hasn’t opened its eyes yet.  A bit of smashed mash on the wings, as it would turn quickly.  (The grey feathers I added – they were left from the bobcat’s meal.)

Anyway, she then took off on a three-day field trip to California with her daughter, and left the nestling to me!  She said she’d been feeding it every hour or so.   Supposed to feed it until its crop (a bubble on its neck) is full.  And if its skin is red, it’s dehydrated.  I checked the advice online to verify.1

Decided it needed birdseed, so chopped up sunflower kernels and Niger thistle seeds (which didn’t grind well with the mortar and pestle), mixed with water, and it seemed to like that, cheeping and jumping about.

Something is seriously wrong with its eyes.  I googled, of course, I have a finch with encrusted eyes. What should I do?

You are observing a disease that was first observed in House Finches in the Mid-Atlantic States in 1994, that has since spread to most of North America. It is caused by a parasitic bacterium called Mycoplasmal conjunctivitis. So far, the disease is most prominent in the eastern population of House Finches. However, a few reports of the disease have been confirmed in American Goldfinches, Purple Finches, Evening Grosbeaks, and Pine Grosbeaks, all members of the family Fringillidae. There is a lot of information on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website — the FAQ page is particularly informative.2

So I looked up what to do for that.3

Then kept searching:

Avian pox is another disease that affects House Finches. This disease is characterized by wart-like growths on the featherless areas of the body such as around the eye, the base of the beak, and on the legs and feet. Avian pox can be mistaken for conjunctivitis when the eyes are affected. “Growths” on the eye are typically from avian pox.4

Then the meds for that.5  But of course my daughter pointed out that it was just a chick that fell out of a tree, and it would die, just not by predator.

Five days later and the bird is dying.  My daughter has brought it by on her way to work.  No cheeping today, no fluttering of wings, and  only two bites of food each feeding.  I cheeped at it in an attempt to get it to open its beak, and even played chirping goldfinch babies from the internet, earphone next to its head, but it wasn’t hungry, or we got the food wrong and maybe it’s stuck in its throat.   It is withering away.  So I thought it should spend some time outside, with the bird calls, the cooing of the mourning doves, underlain with the hum of my AC unit, the swish of cars along La Cholla, with the occasional low rumble of a truck.

A dried bougainvillea slowly rattles across the brick patio, the trees rustle in the wind, and there’s the whir of a hummingbird wings and their high-pitched ratchet call, along with the chitter of some small bird.  The white winged doves call “Who cooks for you?  Who cooks for you?”  There’s the loud cheep cheep cheep of the woodpecker or flicker (or is its call the scrak scrak scrak?), another twittering.

A goldfinch drinks from the birdbath, then swoops back to the area outside the fence.  Two mourning doves share it now.  Then the AC unit turns on again.  It had been windy and the sky was overcast all day, but it has blown over and the evening is cool.

My daughter picked the bird up after work and it died before she reached home.

[It] should have died hereafter…
Out, out, brief candle…
It is a tale…
Signifying nothing.


A Bunny for Easter

April 4, 2010

Squawk! Squawk! Squawk! Squawk!  I thought my cat had caught a woodpecker as I ran up the outdoor stairs after her.  She did put it down when I told her to; it was a baby rabbit.  What a racket for a creature so small!  It was not hurt, but I hadn’t been watching the cat, so I didn’t know where she’d caught it.  I let it bounce away by the saguaro, hoping that it knew its way home.  Also, it’s noon, too hot for other predators, so if its parents find it, it’ll be ok.  A bunny for Easter!

A few days ago, her tail furred out, my cat ran up the spiral staircase petty fast.  Since nothing was behind her, I figured it wasn’t a bobcat, which could go through the fence, but a coyote.  I saw nothing; but coyotes are more skiddish than bobcats, and their tan fur is great camoflage.  We had seen one exiting the drainage wash to cross the street yesterday.  (She had been inside, so she growled.)

My three windbells, hung from different trees, give an occasional chiming.  Wednesday was so windy I didn’t open up the house, but Thursday the breezes were pleasant.  A desert marigold beyond my fence is in full bloom, as well as the creasote.  Hope the palo verdes explode into yellow before I leave in a week.

I tried buying “wild finch blend” bird feed, rather than all thistle, for my feeder.  The finches are not happy; only the gila woodpecker likes it, and the Gambel’s quail and white-crowned sparrows who pick up the seeds on the ground.  Guess I’ll be back to the nyjer thistle.

The weeds have covered half of the yard and my rabbit friend had been dutifully munching.  The area for my wildflowers is one of the few bare spots!  So I ordered more wildflower seeds from  Have been soaking the ground where I’m putting in more plants.  Amazing how hard the dirt is when it’s dry, but how much easier to dig through when it’s wet. 

The past two days I’ve been entertaining my four-year-old granddaughter.   A few hours in Sabino Canyon (; probably busier than most Fridays because children were out of school on Good Friday.  We took the tram (which has no discounts for seniors, although my National Parks pass let me park free), and stopped at The Beach, an expanse of sand filled with children from a gaggle of preteen girls to one toddler in a diaper, many with grandparents.  The water was frigid from snow melt on the mountains, but the kids enjoyed making very modest sand castles and wading back and forth across the creek, getting their clothes wet in the process.  I explained how the rushing water, when the creek is high from rain, knocks the rocks against each other to make sand, so she practiced making sand.

We took the tram a bit further (to the waterless latrines) and clambored over giant boulders.  We identified many cactus, but most of the wildlife stayed clear of the people.  We saw no fish in the water, no lizards (guess it is too early in the season), no squirrels or rabbits or coyotes or deer, a few butterflies, but even few birds.  We had mostly a “walking” picnic, in between bursts of activity.

She was also fascinated  by my new art creation, an idea stolen from Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Cuban-born American, 1957-1996 (shown at left).  Because I used blue lights (from Xmas, of course), I believe that it looks a bit like a waterfall, bubbling at the bottom.

Saturday we dyed the requisite Easter eggs, and went “bushwacking”,

bushwhack   To make one’s way through thick woods by cutting away bushes and branches.

picking our way through the mesquite, palo verdes, creosote, broom, and cactus behind my house to the wash.  Screams whenever we passed by a cactus or a bee on a flower (of which there were myriad).  We returned up through an empty lot four houses down and cut a nopale for lunch.

 Nopales (from the Nahuatl word nōpalli for the pads) are a vegetable made from the young pad segments of prickly pear, carefully peeled to remove the spines. These fleshy pads are flat and about hand-sized. They are particularly common in their native Mexico, where the plant is eaten commonly and regularly forms part of a variety of Mexican cuisine dishes.

If you shave off the immature stickers, wash it and cut it in slivers, grill it and serve it with olive oil and squeezes of lime it is quite good.  (Of course, that is my opinion, not hers.)  That combined with creme cheese on recently-baked chocolate bread and slices of apple made a good lunch.

We spent a lot of time in my too-hot outdoor Jacuzzi, and found worms in my compost pile for her to take home.  Amazingly enough, she spent a great deal of time “playing” with the worms, stretching them out, talking to them, feeding them leaves.  When we called her dad to arrange her ride home (we meet in Casa Grande), he asked us to wait another half-hour as her one-year-old brother was sleeping, and she wanted to go bushwhacking again!  (After all of her screeching about thorns and bees and this was too hard!)  Go figure.  But we were already cleaned up, so we took a boring walk around the block.

My packing is going well for the Amazon as my daughter saw the listing of items needed on this blog and is loaning clothes and giving me permithirin, cipro, etc. from their trip to Thailand.  And I got a beautiful tan backpack for joining the Sierra Club.