What’s blinding, killing birds in 6 states, DC?

Wildlife experts and bird watchers are trying to figure out what’s blinding and even killing hundreds of birds across the U.S.

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Over the past month, wildlife experts have been reporting “an unusual amount of bird mortality,” NBC News reported.

Kate Slankard, an avian biologist with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources told NBC News, “We have yet to figure out what the problem is. The condition seems to be pretty deadly.”

Some of the symptoms are crusty or puffy eyes, neurological signs of seizures and an inability to stand balanced.

The birds also are acting as if they are blind and not flying away when people approach.

“They’ll just sit still, often kind of shaking,” Slankard told NBC News.

Kentucky Fish & Wildlife had ore than 100 reports of dead birds, WKRC reported.

The Washington Post reported about birds that were showing signs of neurological issues last month.

At the time, wildlife experts didn’t know what was causing the issues mostly found in blue jays and grackles, the Post reported. Since the article was published, other birds like crows and starlings also developed the issues, WJLA reported earlier this month.

“Eye issues were reported in what otherwise looked like healthy juvenile birds, causing blindness and the birds to land and stay on the ground,” an announcement from the Animal Welfare League of Arlington said, according to the Post. “Animal Control is now seeing additional species of birds affected. Other agencies and localities across the region and state are reporting similar issues at this time.”

When a bird is found on private property, people are advised to dispose of them quickly but do not have direct contact with the carcass. If birds are found on public property, they are to be reported to officials.

Some people speculated online that people were spraying pesticides to get rid of the cicadas that blanketed the region.

Megan Kirchgessner of the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources told The Washington Post that testing would be needed to determine if the birds were being affected by a bacteria, virus or a toxin.

Whatever is causing the symptoms, experts in Arlington told people to remove their backyard birdfeeders and birdbaths to cut down on the spread.

The same request was issued to parts of Kentucky, WKRC reported this week.

“We are asking people in the affected areas to pull in their bird feeders and baths, and wash them with a 10 percent bleach solution,” Kirchgessner told WJLA. “If it’s an infectious agent, that will kill it if it’s harbored on the feeders or birdbaths.”

Please note the state guidance below to temporarily stop feeding birds amid an outbreak of sick and dying birds in our region.

Posted by Fairfax County Government on Thursday, June 10, 2021