Looks like it’s time to take down bird feeders and put away bird baths, at least for the time being. The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife is researching a mysterious illness that is killing songbirds in the mid-Atlantic and hope to catch in time before it affects our area.

MassWildlife and Mass Audubon are recommending residents to stop using bird feeders and bird baths at this time due to sad reports originating outside of the region. Places like New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Ohio have reported sick and dying birds with eye swelling and crusty discharge, as well as neurological signs.

MassWildlife reports that “no definitive cause(s) of illness or death have been determined at this time,” and they would like to narrow down causes to avoid the illness from reaching our towns.

There is a high mortality rate for young birds, so it is common to hear about an increase of dead birds during this time of year, but the mysterious symptoms and influx of death could be a cause for concern.

The MDFW makes it clear that, as of now, “the mystery disease is not known to be in any New England state at this time”, but they are asking the public to report any observations of sick or dead birds with unknown causes of mortality. A sickly bird would require a report, where as a bird colliding with glass or vehicles would not.

MassWildlife recommends the following precautions:

  • Cease feeding birds until this event subsides
  • Clean feeders and bird baths with a 10% bleach solution, rinse with water, and allow to air-dry
  • Avoid handling birds unless necessary. If you do handle them, wear disposable gloves and wash hands immediately after
  • If picking up a dead bird, place an inverted plastic bag over your hand to avoid direct contact with the bird. To dispose of dead birds, place them in a plastic bag, seal, and discard with household trash or deeply bury them
  • Keep pet away from sick or dead wild birds

Let's keep our birds singing by protecting them before it's too late.

When this is over, let's feed our birds the right way. Love Hummingbirds? Here's What You Need to Know

As hummingbirds make their highly-anticipated return to the SouthCoast, there are things you need to know to keep them happy and healthy. Mass Audubon released the perfect guide on how to care for and feed your visiting birds.