Feed the birds, but still keep an eye out for illnesses

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blue jay

COLUMBUS — To date, the cause of the illness that affected some species of songbirds across Ohio is still unknown. The recommendation to stop feeding birds, however, has been lifted.

Reports of sick or dead birds affected by the illness have slowed considerably in Ohio. Additionally, the majority of the birds reported with the illness were immature or fledgling birds (birds that have recently left their nests), and the breeding season is now primarily over.

Research on the illness is ongoing at multiple labs. Despite the end of the feeding ban, some recommendations still stand. Many other songbird diseases can be passed through feeding. It is important to keep feeders clean. Use a 10% bleach solution, rinse and let dry at least once a week.

Take a break (7-10 days) from feeding if you see sick or dead birds. This prevents birds from congregating and passing transmissible diseases. Symptoms of other diseases, such as house finch eye disease and salmonellosis, include reddish or crusty eyes, and neurological conditions, such as poor balance and coordination.

Despite this, the Division of Wildlife would still like reports of dead birds to be reported. If you find or observe a sick bird, contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. To stay up-to-date on recent recommendations, visit the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s website on the illness. The page also provides easy access to the reporting website and a list of wildlife rehabilitators.

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