Sick Birds Reported Around Minnesota

If you note the house finch in the above photo, you will see that its eye is swollen. It more than likely has the form of conjunctivitus that house finches are very prone to. This bird was at my feeder last week.

Some people have noticed dead birds at their feeders in Minnesota and Wisconsin. It's not just the usual crows and blue jays that are expected with West Nile Virus but also house finches, purple finches, goldfinches and chickadees.


The ladies at Cardinal Corner have been trying to find out if anyone is testing the dead birds to see if it's WNV or any other bird related disease, but cannot find any agency interested in testing any bird other then crows or jays. They have had reports from customers as has All Seasons in Wayzata.

I got an email from Le saying a man from the Pollution Control Agency said the problem of dead birds at feeders is wide spread (they are getting calls also) so it is probably not a chemical. It could beWest Nile Virus but the percentage of chickadees and goldfinches contracting it is usually smaller. It could be a form of avian cholera from birds using the same water source because many water sources are dried up. It could also be a toxicity- birds spreading diseases amongst themselves such as salmonella like we saw during the last redpoll/siskin irruption.

The bottom line is right now we do not know what it is and there are LOTS diseases that can affect birds.

The best thing to do right now (or when diseased birds show up) is thoroughly clean bird feeders and bird baths. During the months when we get West Nile Virus, make sure you do not have any standing water in your yard. It would be a good idea to dump out bird baths on a regular basis. Another option is to just put one day's work of seed in bird feeders then wipe down feeders or dip them in a 5% bleach solution--rinsing them thoroughly when finished. Some people also stop feeding for two weeks when finding sick birds so the diseases won't keep recurring.

Right after I published this post, I checked Birderblog and sure enough Laura Erickson is hearing the same thing.