Wildlife Futures Program

A Wildlife Health Program with the Pennsylvania Game Commission


Wildlife Futures ALERT: Reports of Sick and Dying Birds

Bird Mortality Reporting Form

Nestling and fledgling songbirds – mainly blue jays, starlings, and common grackles, but also robins and cardinals – have been found with ocular and neurologic issues, and in some cases these birds have been found dead in large numbers.

  • Where

    Numerous reports have been received across the United States including the Mid-Atlantic region, extending into the Southeast and eastern upper Midwest. Affected birds were first reported in mid-May in Washington, DC.

  • Agencies & Diagnostic Laboratories

    The District of Columbia Department of Energy and Environment, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, and National Park Service 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
  • What You Can Do
    • The disease may be infectious: cease feeding birds and providing water in bird baths until this wildlife mortality event has concluded. Before reactivating bird feeders and baths when it is deemed safe by animal health experts to do so, clean them with a 10% bleach solution.

    • People should avoid handling dead or injured wild birds, wearing disposable gloves if it necessary to handle a bird.

    • In addition, keep pets away from sick or dead birds as a standard precaution. To dispose of dead birds, place them in a sealable plastic bag and discard with household trash. This will prevent spread of disease between birds and other wildlife.

  • Additional Resources

Additional information will be shared as diagnostic results are received.


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.