Local Bird Deaths: What’s Happening and What You Can Do
In recent weeks, Denver Audubon has received an increase of reports about sick and dead birds. It’s disturbing to find birds in distress, or that have died, but there are actions you can take that make a difference.
There are many possible causes for illness, injury, and death. It is difficult to diagnose the cause unless you are able to get the birds to a rehabilitation facility. We know for sure that the following illnesses and hazards affect birds:
- Mycoplasmal conjunctivitis is common in finches and seed eating birds. It causes swollen eyes and blindness. Learn more at Project Feeder Watch: House Finch Eye Disease. https://feederwatch.org/learn/house-finch-eye-disease/
- Avian pox can cause growths around they eyes, bill, legs, and feet and can lead to death. It can transfer to domestic birds, and vaccination is recommended to prevent it. Avian pox is unlikely to infect humans. https://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-350-79136_79608_85016-26362–,00.html
- Corvids (crows, ravens, magpies) are being hit hard this summer by West Nile Virus due to increased mosquito populations. Unlike other birds, which may recover from West Nile, corvids often die from this disease. Denver Audubon has verified this is the case in 2021 in Colorado with our local rehabilitation contacts.
- Window collisions can cause blindness, confusion, lethargy, and other injuries. It is one of the most frequent cause of bird deaths from human-made sources. Birds don’t always die immediately, and may travel far from the window after injury. Learn more about why birds hit windows and possible solutions at Bird Window Strike Prevention. https://denveraudubon.org/strike-prevention/
- Earlier in 2021, the East coast was seeing a “mystery fungus” that was not detected by Avian vets in Colorado. National Audubon has a report on the Pathogen Behind the East’s Songbird Epidemic. https://www.audubon.org/news/scientists-still-searching-pathogen-behind-easts-songbird-epidemic
What Can You Do?
When you observe sick or dead birds, your actions can help the bird, prevent the spread of disease, and/or help us learn more about the problem. Take the following actions when you see injured, sick, or dead birds:
- If a bird is sick, injured, and still alive, contact a rehabilitation organization. Go to I Found an Injured Bird for more information and contact information on rehabilitation groups. https://denveraudubon.org/wildlife-rehab-centers/
- Take down bird feeders to prevent spread of possible disease. Frequent cleaning of bird feeders also helps prevent illness. Do not hang feeders when and where bears are present.
- Report dead birds at dBird.org — an online bird mortality reporting platform and database that provides Denver Audubon with information on bird mortality in our service area. https://dbird.org/
- Colorado Parks & Wildlife is monitoring for sick, dying birds. Contact your nearest Colorado Parks and Wildlife office if you observe birds with swollen eyes, birds that appear sick or act abnormal, or if you observe three or more dead birds in one location within a two week period. https://cpw.state.co.us/aboutus/Pages/News-Release-Details.aspx?NewsID=7859