Throughout the northeast, a startling number of sick or dead birds are being reported to wildlife officials. Commonly affected bird species include blue jays, grackles, sparrows, and starlings. Symptoms primarily observed are swollen or crusty eyes, which affect the birds’ ability to forage and fly. Neurological symptoms may also develop, including ataxia, head tilt, and general disorientation. Areas observing a high incidence of disease are Washington DC, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, and Ohio. The cause of this disease is not yet known.
If you find a sick or dead bird in your area, you can report it to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. To contact ODNR by phone, call 1-800-WILDLIFE.
If you must handle the bird for disposal or relocation, wear disposable gloves and minimize contact. You can also find a wildlife rehabilitator in your area who may be able to help with a sick bird.
Lauren Cain, RVT, ADDL Pathology Section