By Max Bowenfirstname.lastname@example.org
Bird deaths reported in several states have prompted a request from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife that bird feeders and baths not be used.
According to North Attleborough Heath Agent Sheri Miller-Bedau, the bird deaths were first reported in May. Songbirds such as blue jays, European starlings, and the American robin were among the species impacted. At this time it’s not known what is causing the deaths.
A statement from Mass Wildlife said that wildlife managers in Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky began receiving reports of sick and dying birds with eye swelling and crusty discharge, as well as neurological signs. More recently, additional reports have been received from Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana.
“While there is always an increase in reports of dead birds at this time of year due to natural high mortality rates of young birds, MassWildlife is encouraging the public to report any observations of sick or dead birds (with unknown cause of mortality) as a precaution to help track this widespread mortality event,” the statement read.
Miller-Bedau said that feeders and baths are where birds congregate and bringing them in could help limit the spread of whatever infection is causing these deaths. While out on a rat call on Dexter Street, she saw a bird bobbing back and forth, a possible sign of neurological problems.
“We want them not communing as much as possible,” she said. “We want them to know there’s plenty of food out there naturally.”
MassWildlife recommends taking the following precautions:
- Cease feeding birds until this wildlife morbidity/mortality event subsides.
- Clean feeders and birdbaths with a 10 percent bleach solution (one-part bleach mixed with nine parts water), rinse with water and allow to air-dry.
Avoid handling birds unless necessary. If you do handle them, wear disposable gloves and wash hands afterward.
If picking up a dead bird, place an inverted plastic bag over your hand to avoid direct contact with the bird. To dispose of dead birds, place them in a plastic bag, seal and discard them with household trash or alternatively bury them deeply.
- Keep pets (including pet birds) away from sick or dead wild birds as a standard precaution.