Feeder Lookout

HousefinchconjThe other day when I went outside to take the garbage out I noticed that a few of the House Finches and American Goldfinches on my feeders hardly moved. I was able to get within 3 feet of them (which is quite abnormal). As I crept closer I noticed the birds that remained on the feeder had eye sockets that were greatly swollen. Since this was an unusual phenomenon I decided to find out what might be happening.

My search brought me to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website (my favorite birding site) and I found the likely culprit was conjunctivitis. This disease was first noticed in Eastern populations of finches but has spread westward. This disease is not necessarily fatal but complications due to lack of sight usually result in death (starvation, exposure, predation).

The most useful information I found, however, was how to help these suffering birds. Since finches are a federally protected family (of birds) there are no medical treatments that I can administer. Yet, I can limit the spread of this disease in the following ways:

  •  Space your feeders widely to discourage crowding.
  • Clean your feeders on a regular basis with a 10% bleach solution (1 part bleach and 9 parts water) and be sure to remove any build-ups of dirt around the food openings. Allow your feeders to dry completely before rehanging them.
  • Rake the area underneath your feeder to remove droppings and old, moldy seed.
  • If you see one or two diseased birds, take your feeder down immediately and clean it with a 10% bleach solution

It is always unfortunate to find an injured bird however, there are some although limited ways to help. So keep a lookout and continue to enjoy backyard birding!

For more information visit: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/hofi/hofifaqs.html

Middle School Literacy – READ!

Image from: www.npr.org

Image from: http://www.npr.org

This semester I am taking a middle school reading course. It is focused on various strategies that will  aid comprehension and motivation ultimately, promoting student literacy. This course is intended for all content areas (English, social studies, math and science) – every teacher is a reading teacher!

In light of this initiative to read more I was assigned to find three science-based novels. Since, I love the fun, quirkiness of science fiction I naturally chose this genre without much thought. I have already finished two novels by the young adult, science fiction writer, M.T. Anderson and have noticed the diversity of his writing style. Fortunately, I have found one of his novels  to be suitable for this middle school age group. I am beginning to realize that perhaps some of the books may be challenging not only in verse to the young adult reader but also in theme.

Beyond this semester, I hope to continue to work on building a reading list for my students so I can use other texts in my classroom.

If you remember any young, adult free reads please send me your recommendations (in the form of a comment to this post).