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Morbidity/Mortality Event in Nestling and Fledgling mid-Atlantic Songbirds

 

July 6, 2021

A morbidity/mortality event has been occurring in nestling and fledgling songbirds in the mid-Atlantic, extending into the Southeast and eastern upper Midwest. Since mid-May, numerous young birds - mainly blue jays, starlings, and common grackles, but also robins and cardinals - have been found with eye and neurologic issues, and in some cases these birds have been found dead in large numbers.

Some (but not all) of the affected birds are showing neurologic signs consisting of head tremors, leg paresis (partial paralysis or weakness), ataxia (falling to the side) or inability to stand at all, and excessive vocalizations. Also, most of the birds are in good body condition - likely still being fed by their parents.

Cases have been reported in Washington, DC, TN, KY, VA, WV, MD, DE, IN, OH, FL, PA and NJ. Many theories have been posed as to the cause of this event, however no cause has been determined at this time.

Update: If you observe birds with any of these symptoms or find dead birds on your property, please fill out the bird morbidity / mortality form to report the incident. Any reports will help us better understand the cause and scale of this issue in New Jersey. If you find a live bird that appears sick, please contact your local animal control or one of the NJ permitted wildlife rehabilitators. The list can be found here.

At this time we are no longer collecting birds as we await additional testing. If you find a dead bird it is therefore recommended that you wear gloves and double bag the bird and dispose of it in your regular garbage. Bird baths or feeders should also be cleaned and removed if you find sick or dead birds on your property.

Additional questions regarding this incident can be direct to Dr. Nicole Lewis, Wildlife Veterinarian at (nicole.lewis@dep.nj.gov).



American Robin photo by Sam Galick
Click to enlarge
(Photo by Sam Galick)

Bird Morbidity/Mortality Form









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Last Updated: July 19, 2021