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February 01, 2013

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The Zen Birdfeeder

Joanne, thanks for keeping your feeders so clean. If you have to take them down, hopefully just a couple weeks will help clear out the sick birds. Good luck and thanks for posting.

joanne hafner

thank you so much for this information. i just thought they were either old or fledglings. once i started paying attention i realized they were sick. i've never had so many pine siskins for such an extended length of time. i'm cleaning constantly, throwing dirt over the ground around the feeders on a regular basis and keeping a close eye. the gold finches just showed up. if i see anymore sick birds i will take down the feeders, reluctantly, since they are such a huge part of my life!

The Zen Birdfeeder

Chris, exactly as mentioned in my post! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Chris

Spring 2015: We have had a large number of pine siskins dying in and around our feeders in Olympia this spring. We took down all our feeders for the meanwhile after finding five dead birds in two weeks. We suspect samonella because they are all puffed up and lethargic. Please do everyone a favor, if you find dead birds, wash all feeders with bleach and take them down for 30 days.

Darla Daniels

Dear Ms. Castillo,
This afternoon I had a mother & two young Pine Siskin Fledglings lounging in my front yard in the sun for quite some time. The mother kept a close eye on them & stayed very close. However, after about an hour the mother & one young flew off & didn't come back for the other youngster. Because I have many hawks, eagles, owls, etc., I went out to check on the baby & found that her eyes were shut. They look swollen shut. I have a picture if you can give me an email address to send it. She clearly could not see & she is not yet a strong flier, only making it a few yards before ungracefully landing. She first flew into the street & was able to finally get her into the safety of an ash tree, where she has remained for hours. I am concerned for her welfare & have not seen the mother return for her. I'm considering bringing her in (I have experience working with wildlife in PAWS's Wildlife Rehab in Lynnwood, WA (called HOWL) for the night & keeping her in a spare bedroom in a carrier with food & water, as it is very warm here & I am worried that if left outside through the night she will become prey or will succumb quickly to dehydration & starvation, being unable to see. I don't see the unopened or swollen eyes listed anywhere i symptoms for Salmonella & I do regularly clean & disinfect my feeders & bird baths & clean up the ground. This past two months we have had a large group of Cowbirds, Grackles & Blackbirds & some Starlings (along with the many various wonderful birds I have year-round & in season (all types of finches including Evening Grosbeaks, Stelar's Jay's, Violet-green Swallows, Robins, Pigeons, Quail & many more. I have been able to get rid of most of the Cowbirds, Grackles, Blackbirds & Starlings by changing the food I put out. I do a lot of wildlife photography & have a lot of birds. I have not found any dead birds & have never seen a young fledging with this, let alone an adult, that have this eye condition other than the occasional one that has been injured by another bird or predator.
Can you tell me if this sounds like Salmonella & if I should take her in to my vet to have her humanely euthanized. I cannot stand to let her suffer to death & without her mother & sibling, she seems completely lost with no way to find her way back. She is fully feathered, but as I said not strong & with no ability to see, if she is still counting on her mother to feed her (I did see her picking at the grass when they were all together), she will begin to suffer quickly. I don't want to put her down if she just needs time, but considering her siblings eyes were open…I am really worried that she won't survive on her own.

erin

Thanks for letting me know, especially so quickly! I've dismantled my station. I'll miss the birds!!! But I'd much rather miss them than kill them!

Thanks for the great article.

<3

erin

The Zen Birdfeeder

Erin, thanks for asking. The birds never become dependent on our feeding stations - they are supplemental food sources.
The birds will do best if you do remove the feeders and let them disperse - that will help the outbreak not spread further.
I know it's tough to do, but it's only temporary and it's best for the birds. Good luck!

erin

I have an outbreak here, apparently, but I'm concerned about removing the feeder at such a heavy feeding season. Don't the birds get dependent on it, and suffer without it... especially during nesting season?

The Zen Birdfeeder

Tim, good for you being so diligent maintaining your feeders and fountain. I have no experience with the UV light sterilizer but all your other efforts should be very beneficial. Thanks for your comment and for taking such good care of the birds.

Tim Thoren

Great article. I learned quickly about Salmonella from my local wildlife rehab place and realized I needed to be better about clean feeders. Now, I am militaristic about it. Anyway, my question is about water features. I try to keep a clean water source year round. I have a small pump flowing into a shallow basin and the birds just love it. I clean it every two - three weeks. All of the water runs through a UV light/sterilizer. I was wanting some validation that this will help kill bacteria and keep my birds healthy and happy. Any experience or thoughts? Thanks so much. What fun!

The Zen Birdfeeder

K.Andersen, thanks! Hadn't heard of any.

K Andersen

Here in the east, watch for this in American Goldfinches; small outbreaks have popped up this year.

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ATTENTION

  • Our eyes and ears should be open and alert to the natural wonders that surround us every day. Take time to look out our windows to see the birds that visit us and open our windows to hear them. Walk around whatever space we have to enjoy the birds in nature. Every day, work on improving our powers of observation.

ACCEPTANCE

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RESPONSIBILITY

  • Birdfeeding comes with responsibilities to the birds and the environment we share with them. If you are unwilling to accept these responsibilities, you shouldn’t feed the birds. We also have a responsibility to share these natural wonders with the next generation.