Health, Sci-Tech

Bird illness reports decrease, DNR lifts recommendation to stop feeding

NOTTINGHAM, MD—As of mid-August, reports of a strange illness affecting many local birds have decreased in many jurisdictions.

On Tuesday, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources lifted its previous recommendation to stop feeding birds.

In late May, wildlife managers in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and other states began receiving reports of sick and dying birds. Several bird species had been affected. No human health or domestic animal (pets, livestock and poultry) issues were documented.

Residents who choose to resume feeding birds and providing water in bird baths should remain vigilant and consider the following standard guidelines:

  • Clean feeders and bird baths with soap and water at least once a week, then disinfect with a 10% bleach solution to prevent potential infectious disease spread between birds and other wildlife. After cleaning, rinse well with water and allow to air-dry. When handling bird feeders and baths be sure to wear disposable gloves and wash your hands when finished.
  • When feeding birds follow expert recommendations such as those listed in the Audubon International Guide to Bird Feeding.
    Avoid handling birds unless necessary. Dispose of dead birds in a plastic bag, seal, and discard with household trash, or alternatively, bury them deeper than 3 feet to prevent disease transmission to other animals. If handling is necessary, wear disposable gloves or use plastic bags on your hands to avoid contact with carcasses.
  • Keep pets away from sick or dead wildlife.
  • Report sick or dying birds to the Maryland DNR / USDA Wildlife Services Call Center at 1-877-463-6497 (410-349-8130 for out-of-state phone numbers). Licensed wildlife rehabilitators can be found on the DNR website.

Photo via Pixabay

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