Department of Conservation says no indication of mysterious bird illness in Missouri

Lori Amos
Lamos@gannett.com
Though numerous states are receiving reports of a mysterious illness affecting songbirds, such as blue jays (pictured), Missouri Department of Conservation says there is no indication of the illness affecting birds in Missouri. The public is still encouraged to be on the lookout for groups of sick and dead birds and report them to WildlifeHealth@mdc.mo.gov.

At least nine states and the District of Columbia have recently reported numerous reports of unexplained sick and dying songbirds.

The Missouri Department of Conservation reports that to date, avian and wildlife health experts have not received similar reports and there are no other indications of unexplained death or illness in Missouri’s wild birds.  

“Though we have not observed the mysterious bird illness in Missouri, we remain on the lookout for any unusual reports,” Missouri Department of Conservation Wildlife Health Program Supervisor Jasmine Batten said. 

Batten said the department is asking the public to be watchful and report groups of dead and sick birds as wildlife officials in states such as Kentucky, Indiana, Maryland and Virginia have reported hundreds of dead birds. 

The cause of death currently remains unknown, but symptoms have included crusty or puffy eyes, seizures, shaking and other abnormal behavior. 

According to the department, the most common species impacted by the mysterious bird illness are fledgling common grackles, blue jays, European starlings and American robins. 

No human health or domestic livestock and poultry issues have been reported.

With no signs of sick and dying birds in Missouri, wildlife officials are not recommending that bird feeders or waterers be taken down. 

The Missouri Department of Conservation recommends residents:

• Report groups of sick or dead birds to WildlifeHealth@mdc.mo.gov.

• Take feeders down immediately and clean with a solution of 1-part bleach, 9-parts water and air dry completely if they see sick or dead birds at their feeders.

• Provide fresh food and water.

• Consider placing multiple feeders and spread them out to prevent crowding. 

• Follow safe feeder practices since birds congregating at bird feeders and birdbaths can transmit diseases to one another. 

The department also reminds birdwatchers to follow safe feeder practices, such as make sure to disinfect feeders with a solution of 10 percent at least monthly, regularly clean the area around feeders each month by raking or shoveling up seed hull piles, provide fresh food and water and consider placing multiple feeders and spread them out to prevent crowding. 

For questions or to report groups of sick or dead birds, email WildlifeHealth@mdc.mo.gov. Read more about Missouri’s native birds and the important role they play in the ecosystem at http://short.mdc.mo.gov/ZVL.