If you see finches with red, puffy, crispy eyes at your feeders and backyard baths, shoot them down, say officials at Lindsay Wildlife Rehabilitation Hospital.
Officials said the hospital saw more cases than usual of the highly contagious eye disease of the House Finch, which can cause blindness in finches and some other birds, and the birds come from the whole region.
The best way to prevent the spread is to temporarily remove the feeders and baths where the disease is observed.
"The type of conjunctivitis is very contagious," said Aireo Shipman, director of the Lindsay Wildlife Hospital. "Feeders and bird baths concentrate a large number of birds. So they get together and the disease is transmitted quickly. "
Shipman says that when infected birds are identified in a feeder or bath, they must be slaughtered and the spilled seeds picked up. "Then the birds will go back foraging normally and this will greatly reduce the risk of other birds contracting the disease," Shipman said. "The birdbaths must also be cleaned and cleaned."
In extreme cases, the disease can cause blindness in birds. The infection is caused by the bacterium Mycoplasma gallisepticum, which is common in turkeys and domestic chickens. It was first observed in domestic finches in 1994, and the disease spread to American Goldfinches, Black Grosbeaks and Purple Finches.
Lindsay treated 74 cases in 2017 and only 21 last year. But so far this year, 80 birds with the disease have been brought to the center of Walnut Creek.
The disease is spread through the eyes and nose and is transmitted when healthy birds come in contact with diseased birds, which most often occurs at feeders and bird baths.
Shipman recommends cleaning the feeders and baths at least once a week, or between seed fills or water changes. They should be washed with water and soap and then soaked in 10% bleach solution for 10 minutes. Feeders and baths should then be rinsed and allowed to dry before refilling.
Wooden feeders can not be disinfected properly; you must use metal or plastic.