With the arrival of mid-April, our bird feeders are visited daily by a large flock of Goldfinches. The bright yellow birds – who moult twice a year – come as they search out the seeds they prefer, in our case the black-oil sunflower seeds that we serve them. Being among the most strictly vegetarian of birds, the Goldfinches that visit us like the handout.
There is an issue, though, with this love for seeds – the Goldfinch is subject to trichomoniasis, an eye disease that is highly contagious. As a result for the last few years, we’ve been advised by the Nova Scotia Bird Society to take our feeders down (particularly the platform feeders) during the warmer months when the disease can spread. When flocks of Goldfinches, and other finch species, gather in numbers, the disease can spread rapidly.
This past week, it’s been cold so the disease isn’t an issue, yet, but we did have flocks of maybe 60 Goldfinches on our three tube feeders for most of this week. I’ve already stopped using the platform feeder, and soon the hummingbird feeders will go up and I’ll have to decide what to do with the tube feeders and determine when they should perhaps come in.
It’s a lot of fun to see the birds up close and in the yard all the time, but I’d be among the last ones who would want to see the spread of an illness due to my feeding. We’ve got lots of birds resident anyway in our yard, even without the feeding, and with a little traipsing around, I can find them and observe them as they go about their lives without much help from us.
Spring is a wonderful time of year, and the coming summer beckons, and so the bird life in the yard changes. The geese are not even in our pond most days – they’re inland and I’ve seen two pairs nesting. Same with the loons and the ducks. Soon our finches will be dispersed and then well have our chickadees nesting here in our tubes, as well as pheasants and others birds nesting on their own in our fields and woods. Magical really, and not something I’d want to mess up.