Pa. game commission and wildlife health experts investigation reports of sick or dying songbirds


(WHTM) — According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, wildlife health experts and officials from the game commission are investigating more than 70 general public reports of songbirds that are sick or dying due to an emerging health condition.

The Wildlife Futures Program (WFP) at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and the official from the commission are unsure at the time what health condition is resulting in the recent deaths of songbirds.

As of July 1, both adult and young birds are showing signs of unknown conditions. The most common clinical symptoms include discharge and/or crusting around the eyes, eye lesions and/or neurologic signs such as falling over or head tremors.

Birds that are affected are being tested for toxins, parasites, bacterial diseases and viral infections. Test results thus far have been inconclusive.

Across the United States, there have been numerous reports including the Mid-Atlantic region, as well as, the Southwest and eastern upper Midwest. In Pennsylvania, reports have been made in 27 different counties:

  • Philadelphia, Bucks, Montgomery and Chester counties: 15 reports
  • Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry, Schuylkill and York counties: 19 reports

According to the game commission, the public is encouraged to report any sightings of birds that have died and birds that have been seen with any of the previously mentioned symptoms.

However, the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine said on Friday, July 9, that it is working to determine whether more birds are actually dying now or whether more people are just reporting deaths that already happened.

Experts are also asking for the public to follow the following precautionary measures:

  • Cease feeding birds and providing water in birdbaths until this wildlife mortality event has concluded to prevent potential spread between birds and to other wildlife
  • Clean feeders and birdbaths with a 10% bleach solution
  • Avoid handling dead or injured wild birds. Wear disposable gloves if it’s necessary to handle a bird
  • Keep pets away from sick or dead birds as a standard precaution
  • To dispose of dead birds, place them in a sealable plastic bag and discard them with household trash. This will prevent disease transmission to other birds and wildlife

For more information or to report an incident, click here.

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