More Eurasian Tree Sparrows with eye problems

An earlier post reports on the presence of a partially blind Eurasian Tree Sparrows (Passer montanus) that ended dead in Joe Hartman’s garden in Chaiwan, Thailand LINK.

Subsequently Joe found a few more blind or partially blind sparrows dead in his garden. A few he thought had died after crashing into some barrier or other. Or were they internationally killed?

The area where Joe lives is not bird-friendly. People regularly catch birds by whatever means to eat them. Every family it seems own a gun – “a musket, old long rifles, need gunpowder…,” wrote Joe. Catapulting is popular in April when the blue lizards (Calotes mystaceus) take on their breeding colour. They are then easily spotted in the trees and are killed by the thousands for food.

On 4th October Joe found another dead sparrow, blind on the right eye and probably deaf. “I took shots, whistles from the right, no reaction, I went slowly to the front as I wanted to see the other eye, it didn’t move. I took shots from the front but when I came to much into the obviously present view field it flew away. It came back as there is food, it is the same place where I found and fed the other blind sparrows, in the meantime I found two dead ones some weeks ago, so the total of deaths is now four, from which one was blind,” wrote Joe.

“…I’m afraid there is the possibility of an inherited eye disease amongst the sparrows here, or not inherited, but congenital…” added Joe. “In the meantime there is the possibility of poisoning (contact with chemical sprays) … there are numerous birds around here and no other bird I have seen with eye defects, it’s only the Eurasian Tree Sparrow.”

According to Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS, “More likely infective than congenital, looking at it from a medical perspective. Could be spreading viral agent. Consider a conjunctivitis like from Chlamydia psittaci or Avian pox.”

Joe Hartman & Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Thailand-Malaysia
October 2011

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