so much for my objectivity...there's a sick goldfinch in my house
I know better than this, I really do. I am supposed to not interfere with nature, let things happen like they would naturally, without any "help" from a human.
But it's done. This morning I noticed a sick-looking goldie out in the back yard at the sunflower. His flockmates were much more animated, more vigorous, and I noticed he kept his feathers fluffed constantly as if cold while all the other birds seemed totally comfortable in the 40 degree temps. THen I looked for him later and he was not in sight so I forgot all about it. An hour past that I went out to fill all the feeders in anticipation of a front that was due in tonight, and while I was hunkered over the biggest of the three feeders slowly funneling in seed, something flashed past my head. It isn't uncommon for the chickadees to hurry me along and grab a seed even before I am through with the filling process, but somehow I had a feeling this wasn't a chickadee...and it wasn't. There sat that poor little goldfinch, right next to my flipflop. It was sitting on top of the pile of seed I had spilled and was patiently rolling a single seed around and around in its bill like they do, looking for just the right spot to split it. It was looking directly at me but didnt seem to care. I knew then it was really sick, and that thought was only underscored when I took a careful step away and it didn't flinch. After I had all the feeders done, I turned and looked at it, wondering what to do. I always seem to get stuck with a few of these every year, the "turn away, leave it alone" battles. I decided to place it up out of the snow on one of the feeders, where it had plenty of access to more food, although I also it might also get more badgering from healthier birds there. I was surprised to find that as soon as I gingerly picked the bird up (it didn't try to flee or even move away) and placed it on the feeder, it resumed feeding as if I was not even there. I walked away. I had to. I was strong.
But then I glanced out about three hours later and spotted a small form in the snow under the feeder. My strength failed me. I went out and picked up the little thing ,giving up on non-interference, and brought it in. I rigged up a glass aquarium with a thin cloth floor and went to the back room for sunflower seed. You will not believe this: I carried the bird with me since the cage was not quite ready for receiving, and when I plopped him down in the small container I use for seed he immediately noticed the seed all around him and began eating again And this is how it has been with this odd little fellow ever since he came indoors. I have been especially mindful of what I allow him to come into contact with (myslf included)and wash my hands frequently since there is obviously something wrong. But he is obsessed with eating. He looks directly at me and follows my movements but the minute you place seed anywhere near him, or even pick him up and place him on the floor, he starts toward food. He seems totally unconcerned that the food might be in your hand. I got to thinking that maybe he was having a hard time actually cracking out the seeds, and sat down and went to the trouble of hand shelling about 30 seeds. It is all the same, his face is totally covered with food fragments.
I have already decided that he goes out first thing tomorrow-- I MUST let nature decided what to do with her own- but I am completely flabbergasted with this bird's behavior. Maybe it hit a window and jiggled its brain too much and now is hard wired to do nothing but eat. Gosh, did I hit a window sometime in the last 5 years??
If you might have any insight on this behavior in sick or injured birds I'd love to hear about it.