Home » Announcements

Mysterious disease prompts PA Game Commission to ask public to stop feeding birds

Tell your friends

Wildlife health experts from the PA Game Commission are asking the public to stop feeding birds in the face of a mysterious disease that is affecting birds across the state.

Officials are investigating more than 70 public reports of songbirds that are sick or dying due to an emerging health condition that is presently unknown.

[Lisa McLeod-Simmons]

Experts are encouraging the public to follow these precautionary measures until more is known:

  • Cease feeding birds and providing water in bird baths until this wildlife mortality event has concluded to prevent potential spread between birds and to other wildlife.
  • Clean feeders and bird baths with a 10% bleach solution.
  • Avoid handling dead or injured wild birds. Wear disposable gloves if it’s necessary to handle a bird.
  • Keep pets away from sick or dead birds as a standard precaution.
  • To dispose of dead birds, place them in a sealable plastic bag and discard with household trash. This will prevent disease transmission to other birds and wildlife.

Reports show both adult and young birds exhibiting signs of the condition which include discharge and/or crusting around the eyes, eye lesions, and/or neurologic signs such as falling over or head tremors.

Affected birds are being tested for several toxins, parasites, bacterial diseases, and viral infections. To date, test results have been inconclusive.

The disease has been found in 12 species: Blue Jay, European Starling, Common Grackle, American Robin, Northern Cardinal, House Finch, House Sparrow, Eastern Bluebird, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Carolina Chickadee, and Carolina Wren.

In Pennsylvania, the reports of diseased birds have been received from Philadelphia, Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry, Schuylkill, and York counties:

Numerous reports have also been received across the United States including the Mid-Atlantic region, extending into the Southeast and eastern upper Midwest. Affected birds were first reported in and around Washington, D.C.

This is an emerging wildlife health event. The University of Pennsylvania Penn Vet program will provide additional, timely information as it becomes available.

The public is encouraged to report any sightings of birds that have died and/or birds that have been seen with swollen and crusty eyes, as well as neurological signs such as stumbling and head tremors. Report incidents online here

We'd value your comment on this post. Please leave one below or send us a note. Comments without a first and last name will not be approved.
  • Surely people do not wish to harm our birds. But an explanation on why to reduce our feeding them is not too much to ask. When making such broad proclamations, we are entitled to know the reasons for it. The question should have been asked by someone.

  • Many thanks for this article/warning – and the link to Penn Vet. It’s disturbing, for sure.

  • >