SEATTLE — The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) has asked residents across the state to remove all feeders due to a dramatic increase of a deadly salmonella that is killing the state’s songbirds.
WDFW veterinarian Kristin Mansfield said, “When birds flock together in large numbers at feeders, they can transmit the disease through droppings and saliva.”
She continued, “The first indication of the disease for bird watchers to look for is often a seemingly tame bird on or near a feeder. The birds become very lethargic, fluff out their feathers, and are easy to approach. This kind of behavior is generally uncommon to birds. Unfortunately, at this point there is very little people can do to treat them. The best course is to leave the birds alone.”
The WDFW has asked the public to discontinue the use of feeders until April.
If you choose not to take your bird feeder down, you’re encouraged to clean your feeder daily by rinsing the feeder with warm soapy water, then dunking it in a solution of nine parts water and one part bleach. Finish by rinsing again and drying before refilling.
Keep the ground below the feeder clean by raking or shoveling up any messes the birds may leave behind.
It is possible for bird to human transmission of salmonella, with contact with infected birds, droppings or even coming in contact with a cat that catches a sick bird. It is suggested to wear gloves when handling your feeder and wash your hands afterwards.
Do not handle dead birds. You can report dead birds to the WDFW online on their form here.