Preventing Songbirds Exposure to new Illness

Due to Reports of An Illness Killing Songbirds In Other States CT DEEP Requests Residents To Stop Use Of Bird Feeders

Photo by Kristen Flagg Photography

July 6, 2021
Cassandra Meyer-Ogren, Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center of Mystic

There are reports of an illness killing songbirds in mid-Atlantic, Southeast, and eastern upper Midwest states. While it does not appear to be in Connecticut yet, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is asking residents to take precautions.

There have been large numbers of mortalities in young blue jays, European starlings, common grackles, American robins and northern cardinals having been found with eye lesions and neurologic issues. While there have not been any reports here, Connecticut residents are being asked to take precautions and be on the lookout for cases in our state.

Whatever is killing birds might be infectious, so we recommend that you stop feeding birds for the time being.

There is plenty of wild food available this time of year, so your neighborhood birds will not be negatively impacted by not having access to your bird feeders. You are welcome to put them back up when we hear that it’s safe to do so.

Here is how you can help:

  • Cease feeding birds and providing water in birdbaths for now
  • Clean feeders and birdbaths with a 10% bleach solution.
  • Avoid handling dead or injured wild birds. Wear disposable gloves if it is 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.

The Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center is following this situation closely. We will keep you informed as we receive more information.

Excerpts from an article in the The Day

By Joe Wojtas, The Day
July 8, 2021

Wildlife organizations, including the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center of Mystic and the Connecticut Audubon Society, are asking bird enthusiasts to remove feeders from their yards to prevent the spread of a disease that is killing songbirds in nine Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states.

The magazine Science reported Tuesday that the illness was first noticed in and around the Washington, D.C., area in late May, when baby blue jays appeared “lethargic, unable to keep their balance, and blinded by crusty, oozing patches that had grown over their eyes.”

It’s since spread to nine states, the closest being New Jersey, and scientists are trying to identify the cause.

Meyer-Ogren said it is similar to conjunctivitis that has spread in the past among birds, but the treatments used in the past for that ailment have not been effective with the new disease. She said the other big difference is that the new disease is affecting different species of birds.

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