On 6 October I came across an American Redstart in Edgewater, New Jersey, that seemed perfectly normal at first, when I was only viewing the bird’s left side.  It was foraging and even flycatching like any other redstart would.  When I saw the bird’s right profile I realized something was wrong but it took me a couple of minutes to get a clear view and then I felt nothing but pity.

I know that the late stages of conjunctivitis can look similar to how this bird looks but in this case it might be the result of an injury (though I could be completely wrong as I am far from expert on such matters).  It was hard to believe my own eyes as I watched this bird forage, charge a House Sparrow, and act as if nothing was wrong with the entire right side of its face.

Anyway, expert readers, help me out here.  Is this disease?  An injury?  Or is the problem not identifiable to cause?  Whatever caused it I must say that this little bird showed more spunk with a major injury then I do when I have a cold.

Good luck, little redstart – you’ve got a long way to go and even longer odds then most migrant songbirds.

Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy and Desmond Shearwater. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.