According to several reports, hundreds of birds are dying without explanation in parts across of the Southern and Midwestern United States.
Several wildlife experts in at least six states and Washington, D.C., have reported an alarming increase in sick or dying birds in the past months. Reportedly, the most commonly afflicted birds are blue jays, common grackles and European starlings.
Wildlife experts said that the birds have been behaving as if they are blind, and are exhibiting other abnormalities, such as not flying away when people get too close. The symptoms range from crusty, or puffy eyes, to neurological signs of seizures, and an inability to stay balanced, to literally falling dead.
Officials from Kentucky and D.C., Ohio, Indiana, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia have reported similar deaths, with roughly the same symptoms. And in Indiana, wildlife officials have stated that there have been reports of suspicious deaths of blue jays, robins, northern cardinals and brown-headed cowbirds in the surrounding five counties. A spokesman for the state’s Department of Natural Resources there said that samples from the dead birds in their region have tested negative for avian influenza and West Nile virus.
A wildlife biologist with the Ohio Division of Wildlife postulated a few theories about what’s causing the birds to become sick and die. These theories include a widespread, as-yet unnamed infectious disease, the cicada outbreak and pesticides aren’t ruled out as might be the cause of hundreds of birds that have been found dead in their state.
Wildlife experts are asking the public to report any suspicious local bird deaths, and urge bird lovers to remove their bird feeders since birds often exchange germs. If you unable to do so, then the bird feeders and baths should also be regularly cleaned with a 10 percent bleach solution. They’ve also stressed that people should avoid handling birds for now just in case the mysterious malady affecting them may spread to humans.
Please contact your local U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials in case you notice similar events happening to avians in your area.