WDFW: Leave bird feeders down
February 25, 2021
Continued reports of sick or dead birds at backyard feeders across Washington and other northwest states are prompting the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to recommend people continue to leave their wild bird feeders down another month, or take extra steps to maintain them.
“You can help to stop the spread of salmonellosis by discontinuing backyard bird feeding until at least April 1, to encourage birds to disperse and forage naturally,” said WDFW veterinarian Dr. Kristin Mansfield.
The department first asked residents to remove or clean feeders in February in response to a die-off of finches, such as pine siskins, as well as other songbirds. Salmonellosis, a common and usually fatal bird disease caused by the salmonella bacteria is to blame. When birds flock together in large numbers at feeders, they can transmit the disease through droppings and saliva.
The first signs that a bird may have salmonellosis is often a seemingly tame bird on or near a feeder. Birds infected with salmonella become very lethargic, fluff out their feathers, and are easy to approach. Unfortunately, at this point there is very little people can do to treat them. The best course is to leave these birds alone and report them, and dead birds, to WDFW’s online reporting tool.
Discontinuing feeding of wild birds will not leave them without food supplies during the winter and spring months.
"Birds use natural food sources year-round, even while also using backyard bird feeders, so they should be fine without the feeders for another month," Mansfield said.