Massachusetts wildlife officials are urging residents to report any sick or dead birds and to stop using bird feeders and birdbaths, as a mysterious ailment is killing birds in the Mid-Atlantic and the Midwest.

The Massachusetts Audubon Society said that so far the disease has not spread into New England, but precautions should still be taken.

The ailment is affecting songbirds and causing crusty or swollen eyes, stumbling and twitching.

The majority of affected birds are fledgling common grackles, blue jays, European starlings and American robins.

The cause of the outbreak is still unknown, according to Mass Audubon. So far, wildlife health experts have confirmed that the disease is not due to West Nile virus, avian flu, conjunctivitis, or agricultural pesticides or herbicides.

It could be directly transmissible from bird to bird, and, as a result, Mass Wildlife and Mass Audubon are urging people to stop using feeders and bird baths to help stop birds from congregating.

Michael Tucker, a Falmouth resident and former wildlife manager of the Audubon Society of Rhode Island, monitors the Falmouth Wildlife Facebook page. He said a few residents have posted about finding sick birds, but he said it could be caused by salmonella or other factors and does not mean the mysterious ailment is here.

He urges residents to abide by Mass Audubon’s recommendations to remove feeders and baths.

“The way I see it, if state officials are behind taking them down for precautionary measures, why not,” he said. “There’s an abundance of food available for birds naturally this time of year.”

MassWildlife is asking people to email reports of sick or dead birds to mass.wildlife@mass.gov and include their location, number and species of birds, symptoms observed, and any photos.

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(1) comment

sunrise

I'm sure the mosquito spraying companies are not helping. What a tragedy. Birds eat mosquitoes as well as other animals

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