For all birders who maintain bird feeders, the Pennsylvania Game Commission requests you stop feeding the birds for now. And here’s why.
According to wildlife experts at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine and officials from the PGC, there are reports of songbirds becoming sick and dying due to a health condition.
Most recently, the PGC has recently received multiple reports from Chester County of nestling and fledging songbirds who have developed ocular or neurologic issues, and in some cases these birds have been found dead in large numbers.
Reports have also been received from 27 other counties that include Philadelphia, Bucks, Montgomery, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry, Schuylkill and York. Nationally, cases have been reported in TN, KY, VA, WV, MD, DE, IN, OH and FL.
So far, 12 species have been affected. They 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.
Until this songbird mortality event it resolved, the PGC is asking folks to please stop feeding the birds because congregating birds could potentially transmit the disease.
As of July 1, 2021, there have been reports from public observations of both adult and young birds exhibiting signs of the condition. The most common clinical symptoms include discharge and/or crusting around the eyes, eye lesions, and/or neurologic signs such as falling over or head tremors.
Experts are encouraging the public to follow five precautionary measures until more is known:
*Cease feeding birds and providing water in bird baths to prevent the spread of this disease to other birds and wildlife.
*Clean feeders and bird baths with 10 percent bleach solution.
*Avoid handing dead or injured birds and wear disposable gloves if it’s necessary to handle or move a bird.
*Keep pets away from sick or dead birds.
*To dispose of dead birds, place them in sealable plastic bag and discard it with your household trash.
The game commission asks to report any occurrences of these sick birds online at https://bit.ly/3htNiaJ.
JUNIOR GAME WARDEN CAMP OFFERED
The PGC’s Southeast Region will be hosting a Junior Game Warden Camp on July 30, 2021 from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area Visitor Center located at 100 Museum Road, in Stevens, Pa. (Lancaster County).
This one-day camp is offered to youths ages 11-15 and is a structured, fun-filled day learning about the career of a Pennsylvania Game Warden.
Participants will learn about wildlife crime forensics, methods wardens use to catch poachers, how to solve wildlife related crimes, wildlife capturing techniques, handling wildlife nuisance complaints, wildlife research, woodland tracking and outdoor survivor skills in addition to some light physical fitness.
Juniors will take home a JGWC t-shirt, JGWC patch, water bottle, backpack and survival kit. Bottled water and bag lunch will be provided.
Registration is limited to 30 campers so call Middle Creek Wildlife Center (717-733-1512) for details.
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.