Bird Disease: Why You Should Take Down Your Bird Feeders


Reports of dead or tripping birds with encrusted, puffy eyes go to DC, Maryland, and Virginia wildlife authorities. Nobody knows what is causing it.

WASHINGTON – A porch, a cup of coffee, a newspaper and a bird feeder: it’s one of the few reliable experiences that got us through the 2020 pandemic.

But while people flock to bistros and concerts again, the birds in the DMV are experiencing their own epidemic.

In June, wildlife organizations advised the public to dismantle their bird feeders and dry out their bird baths to curb potential contagion and infect baby birds. Her announcements described birds falling dead or stumbling with crusty, puffy eyes and signs of neurological problems.

Weeks passed without any conclusions about what makes these chicks sick. At this time, the viewer Ralph from Gaithersburg contacted the Verify team.


Should you put your bird feeders back up?


  • Meagan Thomas, a distinguished wildlife biologist with the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources
  • Dan Rauch, fisheries and wildlife biologist at the DC Department of Energy and Environment
  • Maryland Department of Natural Resources Press release
  • US Geological Survey (USGS) Press release
  • Bill Mulvihill, Ornithologist with the National Aviary


Wildlife officials in DC, Maryland, and Virginia all say no; For now, keep your bird feeders down.


In mid-April to early May, Meagan Thomas said she remembered calls about sick and dead birds.

“Really puffy or crusty eyes, lots of discharge,” said Thomas, an observable wildlife biologist. “In many cases there was also evidence of neurological problems … some balance problems or just circling in place.”

The endangered species are starlings, blue jays, grackle, and robins, and the disease has been found in juveniles or juveniles.

RELATED: Wildlife Groups Investigate Bird Deaths in the DC Area

While the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources has received over 1,400 reports of dead or sick birds, Thomas says around 400-500 birds exhibited these specific symptoms.

Most of the reports came from Northern Virginia, including hotspots in Arlington, Fairfax, Alexandria, and Loudoun Counties.

Without an exact cause, wildlife officials don’t have an exact name for it. For now, the authorities are calling it a “mortality event”.

“We don’t currently refer to it as ‘illness’ or anything like that,” said Thomas.

There’s a similar situation over in the district.

“It started with the district area being the epicenter for what we currently call a ‘bird death event,'” said Dan Rauch, fisheries and wildlife biologist for DC’s Department of Energy and Environment.

It wasn’t long before local and state agencies, like the US Geological Survey, partnered with university laboratories.

So far loud USGS, these labs were able to rule out a number of pathogens, including salmonella and chlamydia (bacterial pathogens); Bird flu virus; West Nile Virus and Other Flaviviruses; Newcastle Disease Virus and Other Paramyxoviruses; Herpes viruses and smallpox viruses; and Trichomonas parasites.

Bob Mulvihill, an ornithologist at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, says he didn’t see the phenomenon up close. Even so, he said, “I get hundreds of phone calls and emails on the subject every day.”

He stated that it was best to play it safe until scientists come to final conclusions.

“Keep your feeders down,” said Mulvihill. “Wait for an announcement from one of the credible sources of information.”

It’s the same recommendation made by wildlife officials across the DMV. They also urge the public to keep their bird baths clean with a 10% bleach solution (1 part bleach: 9 parts water).

  • In Maryland Call the Department of Natural Resources and the USDA Wildlife Hotline at (877) -463-6497
  • In Virginia use that Reporting form from the Department of Wildlife Resources
  • In the District of Columbia Call Humane Rescue Alliance at (202) -723-5730. on
  • The National Smithsonian also collects Bird reports

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