Birdspot. On the road. Drawing birds.






tufted titmouse, dying, central park, ny, ny

What is it with me and finding birds in their death throes? First there was the DYING DUCK, and now this. The poor guy was lying in the path in the Ramble, and when I first saw it I thought it would expire within a couple of minutes, as downed birds usually do. But no, it was going through something more horrible than that, and as I watched (and photographed – please don’t think I am heartless or was scaring it, because I truly was not), the bird curled up and started spinning maniacally across the path. A tiny ball of pain and fury. Its neck looked unbroken, but everything else was skewed terribly.

The bird looked as if it had been poisoned or had a neurological problem. And it was suspiciously three feet from the feeders that provide us with amazing views of birds like Pine Siskins, right in Central Park (there were about 30 there yesterday, by the way). The squirrels were not as oblivious to the melodrama as the feeding birds, and periodically came over to investigate it, attracted by the movement. One looked like it was seriously going to eat it. A small crowd of people collected over the next hour, including many knowledgeable birders, who were waiting for it to die (and shooing away squirrels) so they could collect the body for testing. Much speculation ensued, but not one person mentioned the feeders as a potential culprit. What do you think? Could Salmonella or a contagious disease manifest with signs of neurological damage? I will certainly be keeping an eye on those feeders.

8 Responses to “feb 26”

  1. Wow. your visual capture is so lovely and the story really sad. I hope you do a follow up post if you find out the cause of what this beautiful tufted titmouse died from.

  2. Many toxins can have neurological effects. The question is, living in the city, where ISN’T there toxins it could injest? The sources are endless, including (sadly) so yahoo poisoning feeders in the park. Folks were right to collect the body, but it takes extremely sophisticated testing and facilities to determine what is what. Locally , we have Tufts Vet School and the WILD ANIMAL CLINIC, who Dr, Mark Pokras, who runs these kinds of tests all the time. They are the ones running the dead coastal seabird studies and do all the loon, raptor mortality studies. Keep in mind, it could just be an old Titmouse whos clock ran out. One clue is that no other birds were seen being sick, right? The titmouse may have picked up the toxins elsewhere,


  3. C:
    Sorry about the typos in the above: rush job. I forgot to mention diseases like West Nile et. NEVER pick up a bird acting like this without rubber gloves and place it in a baggie ASAP, then home lickety split and a liberal dose of anti-bacterial wash.

  4. Grim but lovely photos–the third one is especially odd and pretty.

  5. Could it possibly be that it was caught by a Hawk or other predator and somehow managed to escape or was dropped?

    So sad. :(

  6. Man, I thought a bald eagle with lead poisoning was the saddest thing, but the titmouse takes the cake. I wonder if the titmouse got some tainted food intended for pigeons and starlings?

    Amazing photos and the drawing on twitpic is touching.

  7. I don’t think it would be salmonella, everytime I’ve seen a bird with salmonella there all dopey and fluffed up. I wonder what i could be, fungus/tetanus? Beautiful drawings btw. Your perspective on nature while still being a city person is so valuable.

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