Date: 1/13/21 7:48 am
From: plm108 <plm108...>
Subject: Re: Death of Finches
A timely but sad reminder to all of us to clean/disinfect and thoroughly dry our feeders regularly. Throw leftover and wet seed in the trash and remove the waste.  So many birds can spread these diseases quickly (just like coronavirus). And please remind your neighbors! Thanks, Joe, for sharing this with us. Patty McLean Conway ARSent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone
-------- Original message --------From: Joe Tucker <000001df0ca37a3b-dmarc-request...> Date: 1/13/21 8:48 AM (GMT-06:00) To: <ARBIRD-L...> Subject: Finches
My Brother in Bremerton, WA sent this article this morning. I thought it might be of interest here.

Sick and dead finches reported in Kitsap County
and across Washington state


Kitsap Sun



Birds in Kitsap and
beyond are showing up dead or sick at backyard bird feeders, prompting the
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to ask the public to take down their
feeders for now. 


"irruption" of winter-roaming finches is likely causing an
exacerbation of the spread of salmonellosis.


An “irruption” is an
anomaly that occurs some years where finches and other songbirds that normally
spend their winter in the boreal forest in Canada and far north move south to
places like Washington. This phenomenon has to do with seed crops and spread,
which birds seek out for food.


Just as it’s important
for humans to socially distance during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important
for birds to spread out while this disease looms. 


“It's like anything else,
you know, if you're around a lot of people you have a bigger chance of catching
or spreading something,” said Staci Lehman, WDFW communications manager.


residents were some of the first to report dead and sick birds in their
yards along with those in King, Skagit, Snohomish and Thurston
counties. But now other areas in Washington and Canada have reported dead
or sick birds as well. WDFW doesn’t have a formal wild bird tracking program,
so it relies on anecdotal evidence from people across the state.


An irruption year doesn’t
necessarily mean a salmonellosis outbreak will happen, but there is a larger
chance with the higher number of birds in an area at one time. 


"When birds flock
together in large numbers at feeders, they can transmit the disease through
droppings and saliva,” said Kristin Mansfield, Washington Department of Fish
and Wildlife veterinarian. 


Finches like pine siskins
and other songbirds from farther north are the ones being affected by
salmonellosis, a common and usually fatal bird disease caused by the salmonella
bacteria. Though uncommon, it’s possible for the disease to spread to humans
through direct contact with infected birds, droppings or domestic cats
that catch sick birds. Pets or farm birds like chickens or ducks could also
catch the disease.


To help ease the problem
and lower the number of birds congregating in one area, WDFW asks the public to
take down bird feeders, including hummingbird feeders as hummingbirds can
contract and spread the disease, too. This request is in place until at least
February to encourage the birds to disperse and forage naturally,
according to a press release.


People across the state
have been asking what the cause is and what they should do, Lehman said. While
many want to help sick birds in their yard, it’s best not to take them to a vet
or wildlife rehabilitator to avoid spreading the disease to other


“The first indication of
the disease for bird watchers to look for is often a seemingly tame bird on or
near a feeder. The birds become very lethargic, fluff out their feathers, and
are easy to approach. This kind of behavior is generally uncommon to birds,”
Mansfield said. "Unfortunately, at this point, there is very little people
can do to treat them. The best course is to leave the birds alone.”


If people don’t
want to remove their bird feeders, they are encouraged to clean them daily by
rinsing the feeder well with warm soapy water then dunking in a solution
of nine parts water and one part bleach. Finish by rinsing and drying before
refilling. Keep the ground below the feeder clean by raking or shoveling up
feces and seed casings, according to the press release. 


Reducing the number of
feeders in a yard or using feeders that accommodate fewer birds, such as tubes
rather than platform feeders, will also encourage disbursement. It’s also
important to keep birdbaths and fountains clean, according to WDFW. 


If salmonellosis
continues to spread, the short-term consequence is a lot of dead birds, Lehman
said. Long-term it’s hard to say what the consequence could be, but these birds
have a role in the ecosystem just like everything else, she said. Birds help
spread seeds that grow into plants, and in turn, help the pollinator
populations, which have their own vital contributions to the ecosystem. 


WDFW requests that if
possible, avoid handling a sick or dead bird. When handling a bird, bird
feeder or birdbath, one should wear gloves and wash their hands afterward.


People are also
encouraged to bring cats inside if sick or dead birds are found near their
home. WDFW would like the public to report dead birds online at


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