captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
captdownshift (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
7/29/21 9:48 a.m.

There is a mystery bird illness in the Mid-Atlantic, nobody really knows what it is what causes it how it's spreading, think early January 2020, but avian. 

I don't have a bird feeder, I have one small ornamental bird house that I don't think anything has ever taken up refuge in. However my backyard always had a healthy population of about a dozen to a dozen and a half sparrows wrens and finches. About four to eight of which would roost under my outdoor patio covering feet from my back door every night even through some bitterly cold winter temperatures. My dog would play with them. She would run out and flush them out of the yard so they fly away and then they would playfully dive bomb her causing her to romp around without ever making contact with her. 

 

I thought to myself yesterday that I hadn't seen any since getting back into town late Monday evening and in paying attention to it more today I've come to the realization and it's quite clear that they're all gone. There's no sign of them. I hope that they've picked up that there's danger and gotten out of the area as there's no signs of bodies but it's disturbing. I now noticed the silence in the neighborhood as there's no songs of birds were chirping there's just silence. 

Sonic
Sonic UltraDork
7/29/21 10:35 a.m.

We just stopped filling our feeder when we heard about this to try to avoid the spread, but until it ran out we still had a lot of activity.  Southeast PA. 

dean1484
dean1484 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
7/29/21 10:39 a.m.

Cats around our place are the issue.  We stopped feeding the birds years ago as it was turning into a bird trap for cats.  

captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
captdownshift (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
7/29/21 10:40 a.m.

In reply to Sonic :

It's incredibly concerning and obviously there is a fear that there is some type of community spread, hence the encouragement to employing for people to stop feeding. But let's be honest birds migrate together and their community organization of flocks helps keep them safe from predators even if we stop feeding them It's not like they're going to stop gathering together. I'm not saying that we shouldn't stop feeding them until we know what the causes but I suspect that the cause may not entail community spread at all.

 

I have no information insight or expertise The following that I'm about to say is merely a projection based upon previous human culpability. I suspect that we are going to discover that the cause is an unplanned side effect from a pesticide, herbicide or fungicide. This is pure speculation, but it would not be the first time. 

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
7/29/21 10:42 a.m.

We still see some birds, but it's a somewhat lower number than we've seen in the last couple of years. Mind you, the birds that breed around the property have all flown the nest.

Come to think of it, we've only seen a couple of hummingbirds total this year, and that was late spring/early summer. Normally we get a fair number of them, but it's been pretty dead this year.

STM317
STM317 UberDork
7/29/21 10:47 a.m.

It's not just the Mid Atlantic. It's happening in the Ohio Valley too (KY, IN, OH)

Some speculate that it's related to the cicadas that were so prevalent in many of the same areas during the spring. Anecdotally, our cicadas have mostly returned to normal levels over the last 3-4 weeks, and I haven't heard much news about birds getting sick during that time. So maybe there's something to that cicada theory. Or maybe the news cycle has just moved on.

02Pilot
02Pilot UltraDork
7/29/21 11:09 a.m.

Huh. This is the first I've heard of it. Here in SE NY there seem to be just as many birds as usual. I've actually seen a few species I haven't seen in years, and breeding seems to be continuing as usual, judging by the number of young ones.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
7/29/21 11:43 a.m.
02Pilot said:

Huh. This is the first I've heard of it. Here in SE NY there seem to be just as many birds as usual. I've actually seen a few species I haven't seen in years, and breeding seems to be continuing as usual, judging by the number of young ones.

Same in CNY. More birds than usual and a lot of types I don't see regularly. We had a couple purple finches hanging around, a ton of cardinals (had something like 4 or 5 males alone), I've spotted a couple orioles, indigo buntings and bluebirds. Less hummingbirds than usual though.

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
7/29/21 6:07 p.m.

We've heard about it through the rehab group. Fortunately we've not seen any impact here, yet, but we were told to expect it at some point. 

Woody (Forum Supportum)
Woody (Forum Supportum) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
7/29/21 6:20 p.m.

We have to take our feeders down by April first because of the bears, but it seems like a pretty healthy year for the birds up here. I've seen a surprising number of cardinals, yellow finches, bluebirds, along with hawks and owls. I've also seen a surprising number of bald eagles this year. 

02Pilot
02Pilot UltraDork
7/29/21 6:45 p.m.

In reply to Woody (Forum Supportum) :

Yeah, I stop feeding once the snow is gone, and don't start again until it hits (or gets really cold). Plenty for the birds to eat in the interim.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
7/30/21 7:02 a.m.
Woody (Forum Supportum) said:

We have to take our feeders down by April first because of the bears, but it seems like a pretty healthy year for the birds up here. I've seen a surprising number...hawks 

Yeah, I've seen a ton of absolutely huge red-tailed hawks all over the place. Also, I've been to three different locations where there were osprey nests with ospreys in them. They built a nest on top of the roller coaster at the local amusement and it has been shut down all summer because of that. I saw a nest on top of one of the light fixtures at Lake Erie Speedway in Erie, PA and you could see the ospreys in it the entire time the drifting event was going on. And I saw a third one somewhere, I can't remember off the top of my head currently. Very weird. Never seen an osprey before in my life and now I've seen them in three separate locations this year.

Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter)
Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/30/21 7:06 a.m.

This is the first I've heard of it. I do recall around the turn of the century when west Nile virus was a huge thing, all the crows died off around here in Southeast Michigan. The upside of that was raptors and other birds of prey really got a foothold and made a huge comeback. It was funny when my youngest, born in 2001, ask what's that? while pointing at her crow when she was five or six. They had gone from being ubiquitous to be in quite rare, but she got to grow up seeing far more birds of prey than her older sister ever had.

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/30/21 7:10 a.m.

I've heard about this and I've seen a few dead birds during my local road rides, although it's hard to know if those were from disease or car strikes.  I still hear a lot of them during my pre-dawn rides in July.  I've seen quite a variety as well: cardinals, blue jays, orioles along with typical birds. 

Duke
Duke MegaDork
7/30/21 11:25 a.m.

Here in northern Delaware we still seem to have plenty of birds around.  Plenty of sparrows, starlings, robins, jays, cardinals, mourning doves, and crows.  If there is an issue, it's on the order of 10%-20%, not much more than that.

We've got visible raptors around, too.  There was a good size Cooper's Hawk in my front yard a month ago.

Around our house we don't have a lot of songbirds, but we haven't in decades.

 

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
7/30/21 11:28 a.m.

Still lots of pigeons.

The number of deer and rabbits has gone up significantly.  I almost see more bunnies than squirrels nowadays.

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse PowerDork
7/30/21 11:39 a.m.

There's been MORE than the normal # of birds around here, about an hour NW of Baltimore.  Little berkeleyers ate up all the sunflower seeds I planted in the spring.  Their chirping is incessant.  Seen a few Orioles, too, which are usually rare. 

914Driver
914Driver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
7/30/21 3:46 p.m.
Woody (Forum Supportum) said:

We have to take our feeders down by April first because of the bears ....

Dunno where in CT you are, but my son in Norwalk, (<1/2 mile from downtown) has turkeys, coyotes and this spring a bear attacked his bee hives.  I'm surprised the waspy soccer moms haven't protested to have them moved or something.  =~ O

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
7/30/21 4:06 p.m.

As an amateur bird watcher who only takes 3 or 4 bird watching expeditions a year, I've been shocked at the sheer overall population drop of birds in the last 20 years.  Now this.  Not what bird populations need.  I'm also concerned that if it doesn't get cleared up in the next couple months, we'll have an all-out freak show during migration.  So many birds that are north now head south and mingle with midwest birds, stop over in places with species that don't migrate, and just generally cross paths.

I'm in central PA and I've seen several infected birds.  The first one looked much like a bird that had just flown into a window.  Stunned, panting, maybe some blood from an eye socket, but it's not windows.  I've encountered probably a dozen.  Robins, chipping sparrows, a few english sparrows, and house finches.  Also found one Wood Thrush which I find to be particularly concerning as they are not birds that come to feeders typically.  Either that one did, or it's that contagious and easily spread.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
7/30/21 4:12 p.m.

There is a current theory that sounds like grasping at straws, but it has teeth.  Since the infection coincided with Brood X, and geographically in similar areas, they're wondering if the cicadas were the cause.  As of a couple weeks ago, they hadn't found anything specifically in the cicadas they tested, and if it were cicadas that carried it, the deaths should be skewed to birds that would include cicadas in their diet.  It should have killed more Blue Jays and Robins than Wrens and Finches.

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