Last week, I wrote about a reader in the Town of Huntington who noticed that, after five decades, she no longer had house finches visiting her bird feeder. I explained there was a pox-type virus and additional mycoplasma infections in the birds' eyes that were killing off large numbers of house finches. Fortunately, that was the only species that seemed to be affected in this area. I asked readers to please let me know if the finches in their backyards were still visiting. Readers responded -- some even sent pictures, including the ones at left.
In some areas of Suffolk County, particularly on the North Fork, readers said there was no decrease in the number of birds. However, in western Suffolk and almost all of Nassau and Queens, many wrote that there were either no finches at all at the feeders or just a small fraction of the numbers. Respondents said they still saw finches that had eye problems at the feeders. It just may be that the worst is yet to come, but whatever birds are left may have developed an immunity to the diseases. Since the house finch is one of the few bird species that thrives in our suburban habitat, in a few years the population should bounce back from the survivors.