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07/08/2021

DEEP Asks Residents To Take Feeders Down and Be On the Lookout for Sick Songbirds

Birds With Ocular, Neurologic Issues Found In the Mid-Atlantic, Southeast and Eastern Upper Midwest

 

(HARTFORD)—The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is alerting residents to a mortality event occurring in parts of the United States among certain species of fledgling songbirds, and asking residents to take certain precautionary measures.

Since mid-May, numerous young songbirds in the mid-Atlantic, the Southeast, and the eastern upper Midwest, have been found with ocular and neurologic issues, and in some cases these birds have been found deceased in large numbers—up to 16 in one location. Reported symptoms include eye swelling and crusty discharge, and neurologic signs consisting of head tremors, leg paresis, ataxia (falling to the side) or inability to stand at all, and excessive vocalizations. The majority of affected birds are reported to be fledgling common grackles, blue jays, European starlings, and American robins, though other species of songbirds have been reported as well. 

As of now, there have been no confirmed cases of birds in Connecticut suffering from this ailment, though DEEP Wildlife Division staff are monitoring the situation and are in communication with neighboring states, and federal and conservation partners. Thus far, states/jurisdictions with reports of birds suffering this ailment include Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana.

According to the United States Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Heath Center, no definitive causes of illness or death have been determined at this time. No human health or domestic livestock and poultry issues have been reported. The natural resource management agencies in the affected states and the District of Columbia, along with the National Park Service, continue to work with diagnostic laboratories to investigate the cause(s) of this event.

In the meantime, residents are encouraged to take the following precautionary measures, as birds congregating at bird feeders and bird baths can transmit diseases to one another:

  • Cease feeding birds and providing water in bird baths until this wildlife mortality event has concluded. This may be infectious.
  • Clean feeders and bird baths with a 10% bleach solution.
  • Avoid handling dead or injured wild birds. Wear disposable gloves if it necessary to handle a bird.
  • Keep pets away from sick or dead birds as a standard precaution.
  • To dispose of dead birds, place them in a sealable plastic bag and discard with household trash. This will prevent disease transmission to other birds and wildlife.

If you do see a bird in distress, contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. A listing of small bird rehabilitators in Connecticut can be found here.

If you are aware of any deceased birds, please report them to the Connecticut’s Wild Bird Mortality Database: http://www.cfwwildbirdmortalityreporting.ct.gov/

 

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