USGS and Partners Investigating DC Area Bird Mortality Event

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According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Wildlife Health Center, in late May, wildlife managers in Washington D.C., Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia began receiving reports of sick and dying birds with eye swelling and crusty discharge, as well as neurological signs. No definitive cause of death is identified at this time.

The District of Columbia Department of Energy and Environment, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources and National Park Service are continuing to work with diagnostic laboratories to investigate the cause of mortality. Those laboratories include the USGS National Wildlife Health Center, the University of Georgia Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study and the University of Pennsylvania Wildlife Futures Program.

Birds congregating at feeders and baths can transmit disease to one another. Therefore, the state and District agencies recommend that the public in the outbreak area:

  • Cease feeding birds until this wildlife mortality event has concluded;
  • Clean feeders and bird baths with a 10% bleach solution;
  • Avoid handling birds, but wear disposable gloves if handling is necessary; and
  • Keep pets away from sick or dead birds as a standard precaution.

If you encounter sick or dead birds, please contact your state or District wildlife conservation agency. To report nuisance, injured or sick wildlife, call toll-free in Maryland 1-877-463-6497.  US Department Agriculture (USDA),  Wildlife Services Operators are available from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday, except State holidays. For phone numbers outside of Maryland, please call: 410-349-8055.​

If you must remove dead birds, place them in a sealable plastic bag to dispose with household trash. Additional information will be shared as diagnostic results are received.

Cover photo of sick bird in the D.C. area courtesy of Leslie Frattaroli, National Park Service

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