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.