Virginia DWR reports sick birds showed signs of eye problems and neurological symptoms

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(WFXR) – The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) continues to work with various wildlife health laboratories to determine the cause of bird death in the Commonwealth. Investigators and experts examine all causes of illness or death, such as toxicology (herbicides and pesticides), viral, bacterial and parasitological.

The DWR began seeing reports of sick and dying birds exhibiting eye problems and neurological symptoms at the end of May. These symptoms have been observed in young blackbirds, blue jays, starlings and American robins. Songbirds also showed signs of avian disease, but reported numbers were low.

In early June, the department was able to identify the areas most likely to be affected by this mortality event throughout Virginia. This included the counties of Alexandria, Arlington, Clarke, Fairfax, Falls Church, Fauquier, Frederick, Loudoun, Manassas, Prince William, Shenandoah, Warren and Winchester.

The DWR says those affected areas have seen a 50 percent decrease in reports of dead or sick birds. The Animal League of Arlington (ARLA) also reported a drop from an average of 17 reports per day in early June to 1.5 reports per day in July.

Virginia wildlife officials recommend that people continue to not use bird feeders in affected areas until further notice. To avoid the possible spread of the mortality event, they advise the rest of the Commonwealth to remove bird feeders if there are reports of multiple dead birds seen on a property over a short period of time.

Bird feeders and baths should also be cleaned and disinfected. The DWR recommends a 10% bleach solution (one part bleach mixed with nine parts water), then rinse with water and allow to air dry. To keep wild birds healthy, it’s best to clean bird feeders and baths at least every two weeks.

However, if you come across a sick or dead bird, you are asked to report it to the DWR by clicking here.

The ministry also says that to properly dispose of the dead bird, place it in a plastic bag, seal it and dispose of it with the garbage. On the other hand, you can bury the bird three feet into the ground.

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