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(42,862 posts)
Mon Jul 26, 2021, 12:48 PM Jul 2021

Baby birds are dropping dead :: 'Keep your feeders down,' experts say [View all]


Baby birds are dropping dead :: 'Keep your feeders down,' experts say

Reports of dead or stumbling birds with crusty, swollen eyes, are pouring into wildlife agencies in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. No one knows what's causing it.

Author: Eliana Block, Evan Koslof
Published: 12:18 PM EDT July 23, 2021
Updated: 8:59 AM EDT July 26, 2021

WASHINGTON — A porch, a cup of coffee, a newspaper and a feeder full of birds: it's one of the few reliable experiences that got us through the pandemic of 2020. But as people flock back to bistros and concerts, birds in the DMV are encountering their own epidemic.

In June, wildlife organizations advised the public to take down their bird feeders and dry out their birdbaths to contain a potential contagion killing and infecting baby birds. Their announcements described birds dropping dead, or found stumbling with crusty, swollen eyes and signs of neurological issues.

Weeks passed without any conclusions as to what is making these chicks sick. That's when viewer Ralph from Gaithersburg contacted the Verify team.

QUESTION: Should you put your birdfeeders back up?

ANSWER: Wildlife officials in D.C., Maryland and Virginia all say no; keep your bird feeders down for now.

WHAT WE FOUND: Right around late April, early May, Meagan Thomas said she remembers getting calls about sick and dead birds.

"Really swollen or crusty eyes, lots of discharge," Thomas, a watchable wildlife biologist, said. "In a lot of cases, there was also some sort of evidence of neurological problems...some equilibrium issues or they were just kind of circling in place."

The species at risk are Starlings, Blue Jays, the Common Grackle, and Robins, and the illness has been noted in fledglings, or young birds.

While the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources has received over 1,400 reports of dead or sick birds, Thomas says that around 400-500 birds displayed these specific symptoms.

Most of the reports came from northern Virginia, including hot spots in Arlington, Fairfax, Alexandria and Loudoun County.

Without a precise cause, wildlife officials don't have a precise name for it. For now, authorities are calling it a "mortality event."

"We're not labeling it with like 'disease,' or anything like that at this point," Thomas said.

(more at link...)

POLL QUESTION: Do you have a bird-feeder at home?
22 votes, 0 passes | Time left: Unlimited
Yes. I have a bird-feeder.
16 (73%)
No. I do not have a bird-feeder.
6 (27%)
Show usernames
Disclaimer: This is an Internet poll
34 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
Highlight: NoneDon't highlight anything 5 newestHighlight 5 most recent replies
We've taken our feeders down. johnp3907 Jul 2021 #1
Same here. I miss watching them during the day. I also miss... NurseJackie Jul 2021 #2
Eastern North Carolina, no, I don't have any bird feeders, marie999 Jul 2021 #3
Sounds fun! I'm glad you haven't seen any problems. It appears to be localized in the DC/MD/VA area... NurseJackie Jul 2021 #4
we've taken down feeders except for hummingbirds nt Fresh_Start Jul 2021 #5
I can't get hummingbirds to visit. The only thing my hummingbird feeders attracted... NurseJackie Jul 2021 #7
I have my feeder hanging from a garden shepards hook. Niagara Jul 2021 #31
I used a shepherd's hook also... but I never thought of treating it to deter the ants. NurseJackie Jul 2021 #33
Same here. tosh Jul 2021 #17
Odd, we have a ton of Robins here and I never see them on a bird feeder. TheBlackAdder Jul 2021 #6
Our robins stick to the ground... they like bugs and worms. NurseJackie Jul 2021 #9
Yep. Makes me wonder if it's water-born. TheBlackAdder Jul 2021 #11
I remember a decade or so, there was a problem with commercial millet for birdseed... haele Jul 2021 #8
You make an excellent point about keeping the feeders clean... NurseJackie Jul 2021 #10
Same here. The thistle feeder is emptied every 2-3 days, the fruit & nut mix feeder every 4-5 days. TheBlackAdder Jul 2021 #13
That Seems Wise ProfessorGAC Jul 2021 #15
I am in Washington and when we first learned of this last year cilla4progress Jul 2021 #12
I know. I hate the thought that I may have contributed to the problem. NurseJackie Jul 2021 #14
I took my birdfeeder down Peachhead22 Jul 2021 #16
I miss the cardinals too. It's quiet around here when they're gone. NurseJackie Jul 2021 #18
My 40 acres has lots of food sources for our feathered friends. Talitha Jul 2021 #19
Yikes! We've never had any bears here... but we do have: NurseJackie Jul 2021 #21
I'm in NOVA, and this is the first I've heard of this. 11 Bravo Jul 2021 #20
Thank you! (Tell your neighbors.) NurseJackie Jul 2021 #22
Will do! 11 Bravo Jul 2021 #23
Our feeders have been down for most of a month, though. Ms. Toad Jul 2021 #24
I hope the experts find out what it is. NurseJackie Jul 2021 #25
I have a birdfeeder I never fill iemanja Jul 2021 #26
My kitty loves to catch birds. A feeder is a trap for birds in my yard. librechik Jul 2021 #27
My feeders are wide open and cleaned daily. I also provide water with all these high temps. I have KewlKat Jul 2021 #28
People are taking the feeders down all across the country maxsolomon Jul 2021 #29
I have a hummingbird feeder. Niagara Jul 2021 #30
I had a bird feeder until the drought here GusBob Jul 2021 #32
All of our feeders are down, including hummingbird and oriole. Greybnk48 Jul 2021 #34
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