Join Club

Authorities Advise Removing Bird Feeders, Still Stumped By Reports of Sick and Dead Birds

The Animal Welfare League of Arlington is advising residents to remove their bird feeders while officials still try to figure out why birds across the region are getting sick and dying.

“We are asking Arlington Co (and DMV) residents to bring their bird feeders inside for the time being. Due to the unknown illness in local birds, we are looking to take as many precautions as possible to keep illnesses from spreading (and bird feeders can be a common source of illness),” reads the social media post from late last week.

Local authorities in Virginia, Maryland, D.C., and West Virginia remains stumped as to why so many birds have turned up dead in recent weeks. Reports from across the region cropped up in late May about birds littering local roads and sidewalks.

Additionally, these reports do not seem to be decreasing and are remaining steady, writes Megan Kirchgessner, State Wildlife Veterinarian with the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, in an email to ARLnow.

Symptoms usually include the swelling of eyes, a crusty discharge, and neurological signs, according to a Virginia DWR statement from Friday (June 11).

One theory is that it’s related to the emergence of the cicadas and the use of insecticide. Another is that it’s a bacterial disease. But, as of now, there’s nothing conclusive.

“We have continued to send out specimens for further testing but have not received any conclusive test results,” writes AWLA Animal Control Chief Jennifer Toussaint in an email to ARLnow. “We will immediately alert the public once we know what is going on and are making these additional suggestions just to lessen the possibility of this illness spreading from bird to bird at this time.”

Kirchgessner is also asking residents to remove their bird feeders and baths.

“Although we are not able to confirm at this time that an infectious disease is the cause of this mortality event, we have recommended removal of bird feeders and baths to be on the safe side,” Kirchgessner writes to ARLnow. “Feeders congregate birds and will facilitate transmission of disease from sick to healthy birds.”

DWR’s statement additionally advises residents, if removing a feeder or bath is not possible, to clean it with a 10% bleach solution.

There are still no definitive lab results as to the cause, but “at least three wildlife health labs are involved so hopefully we will have results soon,” Kirchgessner notes.

The labs that are investigating include the USGS National Wildlife Health Center, the University of Georgia Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, and the University of Pennsylvania Wildlife Futures Program.

Both AWLA and DWR are reminding residents to avoid handling the dead birds without gloves, to keep pets away from them, and to report incidents to either DWR or AWLA.

“We are very saddened by this ongoing issue and are hopeful for more finding soon,” said Toussaint. “These birds are federally protected for a reason, they are a national treasure and vital to our ecosystem.”

Photo (1) courtesy of Erinn Shirley/Flickr

Recent Stories

ARLnow Daily Debrief for Sep 22, 2023

Good Friday evening, Arlington. Let’s take a look back at today’s stories and a look forward to tomorrow’s event calendar. đź•— News recap The following articles were published earlier today…

A local nonprofit specializing in job placement for disabled individuals is drawing on federal funding to expand its services.

This column is written by the team at Arrowine & Cheese (4508 Cherry Hill Road). Sign up for the email newsletter and receive exclusive discounts and offers. Order from Arrowine’s expanding online store for curbside pickup…

An Arlington teen of the same name as an 18-year-old convicted in a recent high-profile case has been arrested after allegedly fleeing from police.

Thorough Testing

Sometimes mold is easy to spot, but you don’t know how deep inside your walls it has spread. It can grow in sinks, cabinets, and other places you frequent every day. If you find mold, the question remains: Do I call a professional? Thistle Environmental, LLC believes in quality, comprehensive testing.

CALL NOW: (703) 929-4036

Submit your own Announcement here.

NY Cat Film Festival

Experience through film the beauty of our relationships to cats. This unique film is a compilation of shorts with a feline theme which premieres every year in New York City and then travels to venues across the United States. This

First Baby? Find Your New Mom Tribe!

Whether you’re expecting your first or you just had your first baby, we want to meet YOU! All those feelings you’re having are NORMAL and it’s not just you, so please don’t isolate yourself (that’s quicksand)! Join us for a

Ă—

Subscribe to our mailing list