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08/20/2021

DEEP Lifts Feeding and Watering Advisory Related to Sick Songbird Illness, Vigilance and Certain Precautions Continue to be Advised

Those Who Choose to Feed and Water Birds Advised to Clean Feeders and Baths Frequently, Remove Spilled Feed from Beneath Feeders

 

(HARTFORD)—The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is lifting its advisory issued July 8 related to the usage of bird feeders and bird baths in association with a songbird mortality event observed in Connecticut and several other states, though vigilance and certain other precautions continue to be advised.

DEEP is lifting its advisory based on information gathered locally in Connecticut, and following consultation with other regional jurisdictions/agencies, and the USGS National Wildlife Health Center. A considerable decrease in reports of dead birds as of mid-August, and increasing dispersal of birds this time of year, have also led to this determination.

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. Those laboratories include the USGS National Wildlife Health Center, the University of Georgia Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, the University of Pennsylvania Wildlife Futures Program, the Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory, and multiple state laboratories.

The exact cause(s) of this illness or deaths has yet to be determined. However, based on results received to date, many typical pathogens such as avian influenza, West Nile Virus, and Newcastle Disease have not been detected. Additional diagnostic testing is ongoing with all partner laboratories and other researchers.

Residents who choose to resume feeding birds and providing water in bird baths should remain vigilant and consider the following standard guidelines:

  • Clean feeders and bird baths with soap and water at least once a week, then disinfect with a 10% bleach solution to prevent potential infectious disease spread between birds and other wildlife.  After cleaning, rinse well with water and allow to air-dry. When handling bird feeders and baths be sure to wear disposable gloves and wash your hands when finished.
  • When feeding birds follow expert recommendations such as those recommended by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
  • Avoid handling birds unless necessary. Dispose of dead birds in a double plastic bag, seal, and discard with household trash, or alternatively, bury them deeper than 3 feet to prevent disease transmission to other animals. If handling is necessary, wear disposable gloves or use plastic bags on your hands to avoid contact with carcasses.
  • If you find dead birds in proximity to feeders or bird baths, consider pausing those activities, clean everything thoroughly, and allow the birds to disperse before resuming.
  • Keep pets away from sick or dead wildlife.
  • Please continue to report dead birds to Connecticut’s Wild Bird Mortality Database: http://www.cfwwildbirdmortalityreporting.ct.gov/
  • 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.

DEEP greatly appreciates the assistance of the public and wildlife rehabilitation facilities during this event. Wildlife disease investigations take time and pose many challenges. DEEP will continue to share additional updates and guidance as more information is gathered. 

 

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