The Happy News-
If you’ve never seen a Pine Siskin, this is your year. Since November, the birds 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 Sad News-
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.
- Puffed up feathers
- Lethargic behavior
- Unresponsive to stimuli
- Remains perched with other birds flee
Is this songbird disease communicable to pets and humans?
- 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
- 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 :😉
- Portland Audubon_https://audubonportland.org/blog/help-pine-siskins-by-practicing-safe-bird-feeding/
- Wild Birds Unlimitedhttps://marin.wbu.com/backyard-bird-disease
- Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife_ https://www.dfw.state.or.us/news/2020/12_Dec/122220.asp