Wildlife managers throughout the region are trying to determine the source of a mysterious illness that is killing wild birds, including some in Vienna, town officials said July 8.
Symptoms of the avian illness include eye swelling and crusty discharge, as well as neurological signs.
“We’ve seen an uptick in reports of sick and dying birds in Vienna since the end of May,” said Animal Control Officer John Barker. “Until wildlife biologists can determine what is causing the birds to get sick, we’re appealing to the public to take action to help reduce the risk to wildlife in the region.”
Birds congregating at bird feeders and bird baths can transmit diseases to one another. Therefore, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources recommends the public:
• Stop feeding birds until this wildlife morbidity/mortality event subsides.
• Clean feeders and bird baths with a 10-percent bleach solution (one part bleach mixed with nine parts water), then rinse with water and allow to air dry. This should be done anytime residents find multiple dead birds in their yards over a short period of time, regardless of whether or not there is an ongoing bird-mortality event.
• Avoid handling birds unless necessary, although no human health issues have been reported. If people do handle birds, they should wear disposable gloves. If picking up a dead bird, they should place an inverted plastic bag over their hand to avoid direct contact with the bird, then seal the bag and dispose of it in household trash.
• Keep pets (including pet birds) away from sick or dead wild birds.
• Report sick or dead birds to the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources by visiting dwr.virginia.gov/wildlife/diseases/bird-mortality-reporting-form and filling out the form.