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Salmonella Outbreak Killing Sonoma County Songbirds

Low risk to humans, although pets could become infected if they eat bird feed

 

A salmonella outbreak is behind the recent spate of dead songbirds in Sonoma County, prompting calls to remove bird feeders or at least regularly clean them out to prevent the spread of disease.

Siskins and gold finches are especially prone to salmonellosis, a disease that can occur when birds feed together at bird feeders, or when they use improperly-cleaned birdbaths.

The risk to humans is low, although cats, dogs and other domestic animals that consume food from feeders could become risk. To avoid the spread of the disease, people should throw away dead birds right away and clean their bird feeders, said Veronica Bowers, who runs Native Songbird Care & Conservation in Sebastopol.

“Bird feeding stations are really unnatural things that attract a lot of other species besides the birds,” Bowers said. “They are not needed…there is no food shortage for birds in Sonoma County.”

The group is asking anyone who sees sick birds at their feeder (signs include lethargy and puffy eyes), to take the feeder down for a few weeks. If you have found an ill or injured songbird or have questions about the outbreak, please contact Native Songbird Care at (707) 484-6502. 

Veronica Bowers December 18, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Thank you, Petaluma Patch for helping us spread the word about this sad ordeal. This is a very serious outbreak. PLEASE, if you have sick birds in your area and you have a bird feeder, PLEASE take the feeder down. Feeding stations are responsible for exposure and perpetuation of the disease within the Pine Siskin and goldfinch population. We at NSCC, as well as our colleagues, are having limited success treating the birds that are sick with salmonella. We have excellent care protocols and prescribed medical treatment and are doing are very best for these birds. Unfortunately, the birds we are receiving are very difficult to stabilize and treat as they are not only sick with salmonella, but they are also severely emaciated. Many of them are also often caught by a cat or dog because their debilitated health makes them ease prey. Please help us reduce the spread of the disease. Download the instructions on our website: http://nativesongbirdcare.org/uploads/Salmonella_Outbreak_2012.pdf Keep feeders, feeding areas and bird baths scrupulously clean. Remove feeders for three weeks if you observe sick birds in your area. Share this information with others. Thanks for helping take care of our native songbirds. Veronica Bowers, Native Songbird Care & Conservation
Veronica Bowers December 18, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Thank you, Petaluma Patch for helping us spread the word about this sad ordeal. This is a very serious outbreak. PLEASE, if you have sick birds in your area and you have a bird feeder, PLEASE take the feeder down. Feeding stations are responsible for exposure and perpetuation of the disease within the Pine Siskin and goldfinch population. We at NSCC, as well as our colleagues, are having limited success treating the birds that are sick with salmonella. We have excellent care protocols and prescribed medical treatment and are doing are very best for these birds. Unfortunately, the birds we are receiving are very difficult to stabilize and treat as they are not only sick with salmonella, but they are also severely emaciated. Many of them are also often caught by a cat or dog because their debilitated health makes them ease prey. Please help us reduce the spread of the disease. Download the instructions on our website: http://nativesongbirdcare.org/uploads/Salmonella_Outbreak_2012.pdf Keep feeders, feeding areas and bird baths scrupulously clean. Remove feeders for three weeks if you observe sick birds in your area. Share this information with others. Thanks for helping take care of our native songbirds. Veronica Bowers, Native Songbird Care & Conservation
Anastasia L. Schuster December 19, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Thank you Petaluma Patch for sharing this important information. We live on the West side of town and have buried ten birds within less than a week, this situation is very serious. Thanks to the great information we've received from Veronica at Native Songbird Care we've removed our feeders and bird baths, have deep cleaned them, and will not put them up again for at least another three weeks or longer if we see signs of another sick bird. What I most noticed about these birds was that they would let me get quite close to them before flying off and when they did it wasn't to go far. This lethargy appears to be tameness, but these are wild birds so it's unnatural behavior. The other most noticeable thing is that the birds seem puffed up. When my daughter and I noticed the first couple of sick Pine Siskins we just thought we were seeing adolescent Goldfinches. Now that we've learned about what's going on we understand that this was a sign of illness. If you feed birds, please take down your feeders and remove your bird baths so we can nip this outbreak in the bud. We are blessed to have the Native Songbird Care in SoCo, they do wonderful work. Might I suggest you consider helping to support this non-profit with a greatly needed donation so they can continue to be of service to our community?
John.Maher December 19, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Found one of the little lifeless critters out on the front walk last week and we thought it was a little strange at the time. Both feeders are down and stored in the garage until the all-clear comes through.
Anastasia L. Schuster December 21, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Thanks John for taking the precaution. Hopefully by removing the feeders you won't lose any more of your birds. I noticed the finches in the trees above my home yesterday so I know they're alive and well which gives me great hope. And as Veronica has said, we have enough natural food for these birds to get by so they aren't in danger by us not feeding them for a while. :-)

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