Wildlife Futures Program

A Wildlife Health Program with the Pennsylvania Game Commission

Wildlife Futures ALERT: Reports of sick and dying birds are declining 

Beginning in mid-May, nestling and fledgling songbirds – mainly blue jays, starlings, and common grackles, but also robins and cardinals – were found with ocular and neurologic issues, and in some cases these birds have been found dead in large numbers. We thank everyone who reported observations of these birds through this website. While multiple diagnostic tests have been conducted by many labs, the cause of the illness remains unknown.

Visit the Pennsylvania Game Commission's website for the latest update...

  • Where

    Affected birds were first reported in Washington, DC, and have since been reported across the eastern United States including the Mid-Atlantic region, extending south to Tennessee and possibly Florida, west to Indiana, and north into Pennsylvania.

  • Agencies & Diagnostic Laboratories

    Many agencies over a multi-state area are continuing to work with diagnostic laboratories to investigate the cause of mortality, including:

    • Wildlife Futures Program
    • USGS National Wildlife Health Center
    • University of Georgia Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study
    • Multiple state and independent diagnostic laboratories
  • What You Can Do
    • Although this mortality event is winding down, birds do congregate at feeders and bird baths and one sick bird with any type of infection could potentially spread disease at these locations. With that in mind, we recommend:

    • Resume feeding birds, but clean feeders and bird baths with soap and water, then disinfect with a 10% household bleach solution. After allowing 10 minutes of contact time, rinse with clean water and allow to air dry. Cleaning and disinfection should be done at a minimum weekly basis or more frequently when soiled to prevent potential spread of any infectious diseases between birds and other wildlife, as well as remove spoiled food.

    • When feeding birds, follow scientific and expert recommendations such as those listed by the Audubon Society: Audubon Guide to Bird Feeding (sfvaudubon.org)

  • Additional Resources

Wildlife Futures in the News

Learn More About Wildlife Futures

At no time in history has disease posed more problems for wildlife and its conservation. 

  • White-Nose Syndrome has killed 99 percent of most cave-bat species.
  • Chronic Wasting Disease continues to spread to new parts of Pennsylvania, infecting and killing deer and threatening hunting tradition.
  • West Nile virus has left Pennsylvania’s state bird, the ruffed grouse, with an uncertain future.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) and Penn Vet have formed a partnership to address those problems head-on.