Starting in May, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) began to receive reports of sick and dying songbirds from several counties around the state. As of now, the cause of the illness remains a mystery although submitted specimens have tested negative for avian influenza and West Nile virus according to the DNR. Affected birds have white crust and discharge around the eyes and damage to their nervous system. Reports of sick birds have expanded to many more counties in Indiana.
Several diseases that affect songbirds are transmitted from one animal to another. Bird feeders can increase the likelihood of disease transmission by facilitating close contact among birds. Even though the disease and its mode of transmission in this case is unknown, the DNR is recommending all Hoosiers remove their birdfeeders.
The Audubon Society recommends the following best practices:
DNR recommends removal of birdfeeders statewide – June 25, Indiana Department of Natural Resources
Birdfeeder tips, The National Audubon Society
Birds and Residential Window Strikes: Tips for Prevention, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Breeding Birds and Forest Management: the Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment and the Central Hardwoods Region, The Education Store
Managing Woodlands for Birds Video, Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube Channel
Brian MacGowan, Wildlife Extension Specialist
Purdue University, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources