By day – Feeders could pose a danger to songbirds
Wildlife organizations, including the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center of Mystic and the Connecticut Audubon Society, are calling on bird enthusiasts to remove feeders from their gardens to prevent the spread of a disease that kills songbirds in nine Midwestern and Mid-Atlantic States.
“It’s important that people realize this is a serious disease and take precautions” to protect the birds, said Cassandra Meyer-Ogren, director of marketing and communications at the Nature Center.
On its website, the Nature Center reported that the unknown disease was responsible for many deaths among young blue jays, European starlings, blackbirds, American robins and northern cardinals and other species that were found with eye damage and neurological problems.
Science magazine reported on Tuesday that the disease was first noticed in and around the Washington, DC area in late May, when baby blue jays appeared “lethargic, unable to balance and blinded by crusty patches. and oozing that had grown on their eyes. “
It has since spread to nine states, the closest being New Jersey, and scientists are trying to identify the cause.
Meyer-Ogren said this was similar to conjunctivitis that has spread in birds in the past, but treatments used in the past for this disease have not been effective with the new disease. She said the other big difference is that the new disease affects different species of birds.
Although the disease has not yet been confirmed in Connecticut, the nature center said the State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is asking residents to take precautions and research cases.
Because anything that kills birds can be infectious, the center is asking people to stop feeding the birds for now. This assured bird lovers that plenty of wild food is available this time of year for birds. The center said people will be able to put their feeders back in place when it is safe to do so.
The center has offered suggestions to help protect the birds in addition to removing bird feeders and baths, which is suggested so that they don’t congregate and spread the disease. These include not handling dead or injured wild birds or wearing disposable gloves if necessary, keeping pets away from sick or dead birds and, if you throw dead birds, keeping them away. place in a sealable plastic bag and dispose of them with household garbage.
“If everyone is diligent, I hope we don’t see it spreading here. Of course, birds don’t know state borders, so time will tell,” Meyer-Ogren said.
She added that the center will monitor the situation closely and keep bird watchers informed of any developments.
The Audubon Company has posted on its website that it will be removing bird feeders from its centers and monitoring birds.