Tuesday August 15, 2017:  20 new birds of 11 species, 13 recaps.  New species: Ovenbird and Tennessee Warbler.  Bird of the day was Gray Catbird with 5 new bands.

Yesterday, we caught the world’s cutest bird – the young saw-whet owl.  Today, we caught the world’s ugliest.  This young pewee is sporting a huge growth on his forehead:

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and as if that isn’t bad enough, he also has one on his left side:

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After doing some internet research, we believe this to be a manifestation of avian pox.  We (at BBBO) haven’t seen it manifest itself in this way before, and we were unable to find images on google of North American birds that looked similar.  However, there were dozens of similar photos of Great Tits from Europe that showed lesions that appear to be identical to ours.  This news article in the Daily Mail describes the emergence of the disease in birds in the UK, and references a scientific article freely available on Plos One.

Avian pox is a virus related to small pox, chicken pox, and cow pox. Birds can become infected through contact, by ingesting contaminated food, or by being bitten by mosquitoes carrying the virus.  In wet summers like this one, we often see what we believe is pox on the bills of birds. Here are two other birds captured this summer whose bills show evidence of what we believe is avian pox:

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While birds can recover from avian pox, we suspect the chances for our pewee are slim.  While the vision in his left eye isn’t completely blocked, he must find foraging in the manner of a flycatcher to be incredibly challenging.  Nevertheless, he was perky (albeit without extra fat) when we caught him, and perhaps he’s been able to make up the balance of his diet by gleaning instead of by making aerial sallies.  We released him with our best wishes, which was the best we could offer.