Pine Siskin- Bird feeder awareness

Repost of Dec. 29,2020 story with this update- February 17, 2021

The salmonella outbreak that was first noticed at the end of 2020 continues to sicken and kill birds in Oregon and elsewhere along the west coast of North America.

Cases of salmonella among pine siskins and other birds in Oregon have trended upwards in recent months, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and wildlife rehabilitators. ODFW urges Oregonians who encounter sick or dead birds to take down bird feeders at least for the next month or two to slow the spread of the disease.

The Situation-

Since November, the Pine Siskins have invaded the United States, inundating backyard feeders across the country. Without question, it’s one of the biggest irruption years in recorded history for the finches as flocks mass migrate from Canadian boreal forests in search for food.

In our part of the Pacific Northwest, there are Pine Siskins everywhere. Large flocks have been spotted from the Oregon Coast inland to SW Washington and the Portland-Metro area. It’s quite an irruptive year.

The Problem-

Pine Siskins in these large flocks are coming down with Salmonellosis, caused by salmonella bacteria. The Portland Audubon Wildlife Care Center is seeing a rise in reports of sick Pine Siskins and in deaths.

How do salmonella outbreaks occur?

These outbreaks tend to happen in winter when birds concentrate in flocks. The social nature of flocking birds puts them in close contact with each other in the wild and at bird feeders. Close contact sets the scene for transmission of salmonella.

Symptoms:

  • Puffed up feathers
  • Lethargic behavior
  • Unresponsive to stimuli
  • Remains perched with other birds flee

Is this songbird disease communicable to pets and humans?

  • Yes
  • Keep cats and other pets away from birds
  • Wash hands thoroughly after handling feeders

What to do if you see sick Pine Siskin birds:

  • Take down all your feeders for 14 days to give birds a chance to disperse.*
  • Clean feeders with a 10% bleach solution
  • If you find a dead bird, wear gloves or use paper-toweling to pick up bird to place in trash. Dog-poop bags also work well for this task.
  • *Also, a good idea to remove or cover birdbaths during the 14-day quarantine time

Prevention:

  • Prevent feeders from becoming point-sources of disease
    • Clean with soap and water; and bleach once a week
    • Feed limited amounts of seed; enough for the day
    • Avoid use of platform feeders during high-risk periods
  • Wash hands after handling feeders

*Suet feeders and Hummingbird feeders can remain out during 14 day feeder take-down time, however practice good hygiene here as well :😉

More information:

%d bloggers like this: