Animal welfare and rehabilitation organizations in the area, including the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center, have recently been receiving an increase in the number of calls regarding sick birds with eye issues, as well as numerous dead birds. Although initially reported to affect only Blue Jays and Grackles in the DC and Northern Virginia area, this disease has now been documented in other species including Starlings, Owls, Carolina Wrens, and Sparrows as far away as Ohio.
The cause of the disease remains unknown, although many area organizations have sent in bird specimens to diagnostic labs for testing and are anxiously awaiting the results to better understand and address this issue.
If you find a dead bird, please safely dispose of it using these precautions:
- Avoid direct contact by using disposable gloves or an inverted plastic bag to pick up the bird.
- Once you’ve placed the bird in a plastic bag, close off the plastic bag with a knot and place it in a trash can outside of your home.
- Thoroughly wash your hands after disposal.
If you find a sick bird (or any other sick or injured wildlife), please call Blue Ridge Wildlife Center at (540) 837-9000 for advice. Birds infected with this disease cannot survive on their own or be treated, but the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center can humanely euthanize them and prevent them from spreading the disease. The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources has a Bird Mortality Reporting Form to report sick or dead birds that you find.