Songbirds. If you are a gardener, they are an everyday joy in the garden.
I love our birds. Among my favorites are the tiny yet feisty Carolina wrens, Eastern blue birds, and the ever-talkative Cat birds. The Carolina wrens and Cat birds in particular will follow me around the garden, almost talking to me and definitely nagging at me if I am some place they don’t want me to be.
My garden is full of birds. I can’t keep track of everywhere there are nests in addition to the bird houses and bird boxes we have. We also have a bunch of bird baths and feeders. It is a job in and of itself to keep them all clean, but you have to.
So what is killing them?
A Philadelphia Inquirer article today featured this mysterious plight befalling our birds:
by Frank Kummer
Updated Jul 2, 2021
📌”A group of songbirds recently turned up dead in Nottingham, Chester County.
But their cause of death is a mystery for scientists, wildlife officials, and bird lovers. Scores of similar bird deaths have been reported in 27 Pennsylvania counties, including Philadelphia, since June. And more and more deaths have been logged in Delaware and eight other states and Washington, stretching back to April.
Officials and wildlife experts are stumped by the illness and deem the rash of deaths unusual. They are pleading with the public to stop feeding birds from feeders and providing water in birdbaths until the cause is found, as they believe congregating birds may contribute to the malady’s spread.
The illness is killing a range of species, all of which have been found with ocular and neurological issues. The disorder is marked by swollen eyes with a crusty discharge, and erratic flight and stumbling.
Officials say cases have been reported in Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Indiana, Ohio, and Florida….The Pennsylvania Game Commission is recommending that people clean all feeders and baths with a 10% bleach solution, and avoid handling birds. People who find dead birds should wear disposable gloves and place the birds in a sealable plastic bag and discard them with household trash, which prevents disease transmission to other birds and wildlife.
Pennsylvania officials are asking people to report occurrences of bird deaths online to the Wildlife Futures Program. Experts from the program and state game commission are investigating more than 85 reports from the public of songbirds that are sick or dying. Of those reports, 15 occurred in Philadelphia, Bucks, Montgomery, and Chester Counties.
Species affected so far are blue jay, European starling, common grackle, American robin, Northern cardinal, house finch, house sparrow, Eastern bluebird, red-bellied woodpecker, Carolina chickadee, and Carolina wren. The malady appears to affect juvenile birds more than adults.”📌
So what is going on?
What can we do?
I wish I had answers for all of you but I don’t. All I know is I am going to strive to be more vigilant with cleaning the bird baths, birdfeeders, bird boxes, and bird houses.
To date, we have not lost any birds in my garden to mysterious circumstances, thank goodness.
Here are more articles I found:
Why are songbirds dropping dead in Maryland, Delaware and West Virginia?
Shannon Marvel McNaught
Delaware News Journal
Scientists Investigate Mysterious Songbird Deaths in Delaware, Several Other States and D.C. Area
DE Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control | Division of Fish and Wildlife | Featured Posts | Date Posted: Wednesday, June 30, 2021