Recently some people have notice Redpolls dying in their yards and have requested assistance with helping in the diagnosis and eradication of the problem.
While some great help has already been given I thought I’d spend a little time and put together some information with source links that you can read up on for more thourough consideration.
The problem has been suggested to be an outbreak of Salmonella. Salmonella is a bacteria that can infect birds, people, reptiles and other animals but most commonly birds. While free ranging birds tend to be carriers of the disease, flies, rats, and other vermin’s can also be sources.
The primary source of transmission is through the air. The bacteria is shed through through nasal and/or ocular secretions, fecal material and feather dust. The bacteria remains viable/stable outside the body by drying into a dust which contaminates the air that is inhaled by new hosts. It also contaminates water and food which is consumed.
Bird feeders and areas where birds congregate can become contaminated which hastens the spread of the disease.
Symptoms can include lethargy, anorexia and diarrhea.
Treatment – most sites indicate that there is no guaranteed treatment while some give antibiotic suggestions with directions. According to Mass Audubon “No drugs or antibiotics have proven to be effective for the treatment of salmonellosis in wild birds.”
Prevention – “Proper hygiene is the best way to prevent outbreaks of Salmonella“. Keep all feeding areas and water container clean and free from droppings. Note that some types of salmonella can cause food poisoning in humans so maintain excellent personal hygiene when helping/treating sick birds.
During an outbreak remove feeders for two weeks. Otherwise disinfect them weekly (when in use) with a solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water (1 cup bleach to 10 cups water or 1 table spoon bleach to 10 table spoons of water, etc). Ensure the feeders are thoroughly dried before restoring them to use.
Its recommended that you clean using disposable gloves and in a bucket outdoors. That way you won’t bring the bacteria into your kitchen where you might transfer it to your food and giving yourself food poisoning.
Keep pets away from bird carcasses and debris under the feeders.
Don’t use mixed seed. Mixed seed results in spillage as birds sift and push unwanted seed out of the feeder to get what they want. The birds tend to want the black-oil sunflower seed or sunflower hearts.
Disposal of dead birds should be done with rubber gloves or use a plastic bag in the same way you’d pick up your dog’s feces. Then double bag the carcas and dispose of it appropriately.
http://www.avianbiotech.com – About Salmonella (General)
http://www.avianweb.com – About Salmonella (Avian health)
http://www.massaudubon.org – Salmonella and Wild Birds
http://birds.cornell.edu – Project Feeder Watch – Diseased Birds at Your Feeder
http://www.wildcarebayarea.org – Salmonella Outbreak Page
http://www.michigan.gov – About Salmonella in Michigan Song Birds
http://www.sva.se – About Salmonella in Cats