Circle of Death, Katy Tx
If one reads much about birding and birds one is apt to come across the occasional dry statistics concerning the life-expectancy for most birds in the wild. Life is not easy, staying alive a struggle. If you feed birds then you will sooner or later confront those stats first hand. Birds die for a variety of reasons, disease, predators, and sometimes they just seem to let go. I wrote about Cooper's visits in the previous blog, here I reflect on other hardships and dying that all too frequently visit our garden.
I first encountered avian disease when I noticed frequent conjunctivitis in our House finches. This disease is a common and often deadly condition that mercifully has proven not to be contageous to other species. Birds often loose their eyesight and it is pitiful to see one trying to land on the feeder without being able to see well enough to make the landing. Too many house finches have died in our garden.
West Nile Virus is a mosquito-born pathogen that can kill humans as well as birds, especially corvids. Our Blue Jays met with this disease twice the past year, sadly watching each become lethargic and eventually dying. This bird's last request was a sip of water, we found it dead about a meter from the bath, it never made it.
I first noted This female English Sparrow when I saw its abnormally large size. It had trouble to keep up with the local flock and over a few days I saw it become increasingly slow. It was so heavy it had trouble to keep itself upright. I do not know the condition or what exactly was wrong, nor did I actually see it die, but after spotting it and knowing it was increasingly challenged to stay with its flock, one day it was no longer around. There may be those to will cheer the passing of an English Sparrow, but death is death and I am sad just the same.
In early November I noticed this female Cardinal who would not move about unless really threatened (like when I moved up close to get a better look). Even when a squirrel came foraging nearby, it practically had to nudge the cardinal out of its way. What was partictularily interesting from a behavior standpoint was that at one point a male cardinal came by and started mercilessly pecking at it, at its head and tail while it was unable to defend itself. Over the next two hours or so the cardinal wasted away and died.
Ongoing sadness in the cardinal population. It is spring 2015 and love is in the air, or it ought to be. This little lady is suffering from a growth/tumor on her throat and spends her time on the bird bath taking occasional sips. She is lethargic and in bad shape. No love here..