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Take Down Birdfeeders: Mysterious Illness Killing Songbirds In Connecticut, Massachusetts

Wildlife officials are asking residents to put away their bird feeders until a mysterious illness that is killing hundreds of birds has passed.
Wildlife officials are asking residents to put away their bird feeders until a mysterious illness that is killing hundreds of birds has passed. Photo Credit: Mass State Wildlife

Wildlife officials in New England and along the East Coast are warning residents to take down their bird feeders due to a mysterious illness that has killed hundreds of birds.

According to Connecticut and Massachusetts wildlife officials, the vast majority of birds affected include fledgling common grackles, blue jays, European starlings, and American robins, other species of songbirds have been reported as well. 

Although the disease has not been confirmed in the region to date, officials have issued the warning as a precautionary effort.

"No definitive cause of illness or death has been determined at this time," said Massachusetts State Wildlife officials.

The illness was first discovered in Washington, DC, and hundreds of cases in nine Midwestern and Eastern states have been reported since.

They are encouraging bird lovers to put away the bird feeders as they, as well as birdbaths, can transmit diseases to one another.

The affected birds are showing neurological signs of illness, as well as eye swelling and crusty discharge, officials said.

Officials offered the following precautions:

  • Cease feeding birds until the illness subsides.
  • Clean feeders and birdbaths with a 10 percent bleach solution 
  • Avoid handling birds unless necessary. If you do handle them, wear disposable gloves and wash your hands.
  • If picking up a dead bird, place an inverted plastic bag over your hand to avoid direct contact with the bird. 
  • To dispose of dead birds, place them in a plastic bag, seal them, and discard them with household trash or alternatively bury them deeply.
  • Keep pets (including pet birds) away from sick or dead wild birds as a standard precaution.

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