Songbirds dying at birdfeeders

January 8, 2013

A number of local bird rescue groups are reporting an outbreak of salmonella among pine siskins, small songbirds that are common at Bay Area bird feeders this time of year.

Wildcare of Marin sent dead birds to a lab for testing and confirmed that they died of salmonella. “The disease Salmonellosis is a common cause of disease and death in wild birds,” said the organization in a statement. “Bird feeders bring large numbers of birds into close contact with each other, which means diseases can spread quickly through multiple populations. Salmonella bacteria is primarily transmitted through contact with fecal matter, so birds at a crowded feeder are much more likely to be exposed than birds in a wild setting.”

Rescue experts recommend that residents remove and clean bird feeders every two weeks and bird baths daily, regardless of disease outbreaks. And if you see dead birds in your yard, it’s important to remove feeders, wash them thoroughly, and leave them down for at least a month. Read the full recommendations, including how to protect yourself from the disease while cleaning feeders.

About the Author

Dan was editor of Bay Nature from 2004 until 2013, when he left to work for SF-based Stamen Design. A onetime professional cabinetmaker, he considers himself a lifelong maker of things and teller of stories. Dan has been working at the intersection of journalism and technology since, at age 16, he began learning reporting, page layout, and database design. His enduring interest in environmental issues crystallized into a career path in 1998 when he assisted former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass in a cross-disciplinary nature writing and ecology course at UC Berkeley, from which Dan received a Masters in English literature. In 1999, he became Associate Editor of Terrain, the erstwhile quarterly magazine of Berkeley's Ecology Center. In addition to editing and art-directing Bay Nature magazine, he was also Bay Nature’s chief technology strategist, fixer of broken things, and designer of databases and fancy spreadsheets. And he was even known to leave the office and actually hike outdoors.

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