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.