Songbird Mortality Event
Nestling and fledgling songbirds – mainly blue jays, starlings, and common grackles, but also robins and cardinals – have been found with ocular and neurologic issues, and in some cases these birds have been found dead in large numbers. Cases have been reported from TN, KY, VA, WV, MD, DE, IN, OH, FL, and recently from PA (see update below).
The Pennsylvania Game Commission is recommending that people cease feeding birds until this event is resolved. There is no official moratorium.
UPDATE July 8, 2021, Wildlife Futures received 1,679 public reports through our WFP online bird mortality portal. This includes 1,525 unique bird reports in Pennsylvania. Here’s a breakdown Game Commission regions:
Reports received from PA include:
56 reports from 8 of the 10 Northcentral Region counties
135 reports from 12 of the 13 Northeast Region counties
60 reports from 8 of the 10 Northwest Region counties
233 reports from 12 of the 12 Southcentral Region counties
783 reports from 12 of the 12 Southeast Region counties
239 reports from 10 of the 10 Southweat Region counties
Among these Pennsylvania reports, they estimate that roughly 25-30% (approximately 500) are likely associated with the current songbird mortality event. To date, the songbird morbidity/mortality event appears to be targeting fledgling common grackles, blue jays, European starlings, and American robins. Affected songbirds are presenting with eye swelling and crusty discharge, along with neurological signs. While an exact cause has not been identified and diagnostics are ongoing, the following pathogens have been ruled out: Salmonella, Chlamydia, avian influenza virus, West Nile virus, Newcastle disease virus, herpesviruses, poxviruses, and Trichomonas parasites. There are no new developments on the diagnostics side, with multiple test results still pending at New Bolton Center and Penn State’s Animal Diagnostic Laboratory.
What You Can Do
• Report occurrences online: https://www.vet.upenn.edu/research/centers-laboratories/research-initiatives/wildlife-futures-program.
• Cease feeding birds until this wildlife mortality event has concluded
• Clean feeders and bird baths with a 10% bleach solution
• Avoid handling birds, but wear disposable gloves if handling is necessary
• Keep pets away from sick or dead birds as a standard precaution
Read the news release.