"I hope you love birds too. It is economical. It saves going to heaven."
Emily Dickinson

Friday, February 26, 2021

Salmonellosis outbreak may be spreading to Southern California

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is asking the public’s help to stop the spread of salmonellosis among songbirds by removing seed feeders until after spring migration. Pine siskins, which are winter visitors to Southern California, are most affected by the disease followed by a smaller number of lesser and American goldfinches.

The disease was first reported in California’s Central Coast, the San Francisco Bay Area and Sierra Nevada communities.

“We have been receiving reports of suspected Salmonellosis recently from Southern California,” said CDFW’s Krysta Rogers, Senior Environmental Scientist and Avian Specialist, via email. “Sick birds often act lethargic with ruffled or puffed-up feathers and die relatively quickly once infected.”

“These outbreaks typically last until March or April,” she says, “when pine siskins usually start migrating north, back to their breeding grounds.

Infected birds can transfer the illness, caused by the Salmonella bacteria, through their droppings at feeders. Therefore, the agency recommends bird feeders/baths be removed to help reduce mortality. After the outbreak has subsided, it’s generally recommended that bird feeders and bird baths are thoroughly cleaned and sterilized with bleach at least once a week, and more often if there is heavy use by birds.

Report dead birds to CDFW’s Wildlife Investigations Laboratory using the mortality reporting form, which helps biologists monitor the outbreak at: https://wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/laboratories/wildlife-investigations/monitoring/mortality-report

The agency suggests using disposable gloves and wash hands thoroughly after disposing of dead birds or handling of bird feeders and bird baths.

The agency has not reported the outbreak affecting hummingbirds, therefore, it appears safe to keep nectars feeders up as long as they are kept clean.

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