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Mystery Songbird Disease Update

Credit: Ginger Rood, Fish & Wildlife Resources

Perhaps you heard about the many reports earlier this summer of birds dying in the mid-Atlantic and Midwest states. These chiefly involved birds that congregate at bird feeders and bird baths, particularly young birds. Birds were arriving without energy and swollen, crusted eyes. Wildlife officials asked people to stop feeding birds and providing water in bird baths.

Good news

Now, there’s some positive news. according to an update from the Cornell Wildlife Health Lab, it appears the occurrence has waned without a significant decrease in overall bird populations. But it remains a mystery despite extensive testing of bird corpses. Some speculate that it could have come from illness caused by ingesting cicadas, possibly secondary effects of pesticides sprayed on the cicadas.

Authorities in affected states say it is now safe to resume bird feeding and bird baths. Just as we humans are now cleaning our hands. habits and surfaces to fight off unseen pathogens, this is a reminder we need to keep good hygiene at our bird feeders. It is just one example of many issues threatening birds. For learn all about the decline of bird populations, the effects on migration, and climate change impact, check out Chapter 8 in our Fall Migration online course.



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