Experts asking homeowners to take down birdfeeders

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A Blue Jay photographed in Canada - unsplash.com

Birds are dying and the cause is unclear, but experts do know that birdfeeders and bird baths are part of the problem.

A mysterious virus is killing birds along the mid-Atlantic seaboard and has no known cause, but it is spreading.

“We’re still scratching our heads on this one,” says wildlife epidemiologist David Stallknecht, director of the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study at the University of Georgia, Athens in an article in sciencemag.org.

From New York to Boston and as far south as Atlanta and into Ohio, thousands of songbirds are dying.

So far, most cases involve just four species—common Grackles, Blue Jays, American Robins, and European Starlings—according to a July 2nd statement from the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Centre.

Mass bird deaths aren’t uncommon, especially in species which gather at feeders and move in mass flocks.

In the mid-1990s, bird watchers in the eastern United States noticed that House Finches, a common songbird, were dying in relatively large numbers from an illness characterized by “swollen and encrusted eyes,” states the article. “Researchers ultimately determined the cause was a bacterium, Mycoplasma Gallisepticum, that had likely spread from domestic poultry.”

Although the outbreak seems to be slowing, officials are asking people to take their feeders down and bury any dead birds that may be found in their yard.

16 COMMENTS

  1. This story is about birds literally thousands of kilometers south and east. Not relevant to here.
    Having said that you don’t need to feed birds in the summer. They have plenty of food at this time of year. Bird food will only attract bears and other scavengers during summer.

  2. I live in Drumheller I have chickadees little yellow birds Robins black birds Blue Jays sparrows starling magpies pigeons woodpeckers so maybe it’s something else in your Society that’s killing the birds take a look around Industrial areas and I have lots of feeders but I wash my feeders

  3. This article is all over the place and sorely lacks information. It comments that experts do not know the cause of birds dying along the mid-Atlantic seaboard – they are scratching their heads – but then states the deaths are caused by a ‘mysterious virus’. It first states the virus is spreading, but at the end, states “the outbreak seems to be slowing”. Finally, it comments that experts “do know that bird feeders and bird baths are part of the problem”, but then gives us no factual evidence to support this or as to how this conclusion was reached. Since the virus outbreak among only 4 species of birds in a limited area is declining and “mass bird deaths are not uncommon” (as noted in the article), we will continue to have bird feeders and bird baths, and enjoy watching our content wild birds.

  4. I say we just kill them all and this way we can completely eliminate it as a topic of discussion.

  5. Wow, nice to see you playing God, Will – as you deem some birds not being ‘worthwhile’. I’m sure they feel the same about you

  6. If anything I’ve seen more birds around our NW Ontario country home than ever and more varirties as well.

  7. I haven’t put my feeders up yet..BUT here in the northern part of Ontario and I haven’t seen any of the beautiful chickadees and other beautiful birds this year
    SO DEPRESSING

  8. How do you come to the conclusion that,our love of wild life..BIRD FEEDERS are causing the death of these birds? I love watching the wildlife entering my bird feeders. Give me ACTUAL PROOF that birdfeeders are responsible for the death of birds.

  9. Moi, speak to your neighbour. They are probably not aware that feeding the squirrels are causing damages. I wasn’t aware until a neighbour spoke to me about it. I only wish she had spoken up sooner. If you leave it until you get angry, it only makes for bad neighbours. Speak up kindly.

  10. I disagree with people who feed animals/birds all year long. Sure they’re cute and it’s a good feeling maker, but what about the neighbours whose gardens, garages, sheds, homes, etc. are damaged by some of these creatures (squirrels, chipmunks, moles, mice, rats)? I work very hard in my yard/garden and I’m not happy having these animals eat, damage, destroy my vegetables/fruit or dig up my lawn to hide peanuts so generously given to them by my neighbour. I don’t like critters burrowing into my garage, workshed, eaves, etc.
    At certain times it may be necessary to feed them but come on, 365 days a year is a bit much.

    • Nature was here before you!, and i. If you cannot face that these “creatures”, move to a high rise!!. Most everyone lives in that “reality”.

  11. The starlings and grackles are a welcome loss. Too bad it is affecting the worthwhile birds. We took our feeders down for now.

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