A Mindful Finch

Blind house finch at feeder


After finishing a recent lunch, I headed outside on the porch to fill our bird feeders.  Normally, all the birds instinctively retreat to a safe distance, awaiting their new snack, but something was different this day.  A solitary house finch remained, seemingly oblivious as I re-filled the feeder.  Why, I wondered, did it not fly away with the other birds, and then I noticed that it was blind. Researching further, I learned about finch mycoplasma (which also affect plants), is a disease that robs birds of sight, and often their life.

As sad as the finch plight was, it was amazing to watch the finch using its other senses to fearlessly continue to eat. The finch reinforced many of the lessons I’ve been learning…embrace all of our functional senses each moment and do so without judgment or fear, as none of us are guaranteed anything beyond the present.  What society labels disabilities are only so if we label them as such.  The natural world has many lessons to share if we’re mindful enough to observe.

7 thoughts on “A Mindful Finch”

  1. How sad , yes this disease is common 🙁 I think this is a Purple Finch (NH’s state bird) which is sadly now a rare sight here..

    Can’t wait for my plant order to arrive in April!

  2. According to NY State, it is caused by a contagious (to gamebirds & chickens & finches) Mycoplasma organism. The recommended course of action once an outbreak is detected is to suspend bird feeding operations for a minimum of two weeks. All feeders should be cleaned with a 10% solution of household bleach (1 part bleach: 9 parts water). Clean-up of seed hulls and spilled seed under feeders is also recommended.

  3. I noticed one on my feeder a couple of years ago. I approached from the blind side and picked it up. For a few minutes, I put it in a birdcage and watched it. It was blind on one side with the same damaged eye. It never panicked. When I opened the door it took off.

  4. Laura Sonnichsen

    I do believe that is a purple finch. Poor little birdie. We see some of the same affliction at times at our feeders. I agree that the instincts of these small creatures are amazing, and they forge ahead to do what they must to stay alive.

    Thank you for posting this.

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