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.