Close Menu

Songbird Deaths

  • In late May, DNR started receiving reports of sick and dying birds from Monroe County with neurological signs, eye swelling, and crusty discharge around the eyes.
  • Reports of sick and dying birds now include 69 counties, including: Allen, Bartholomew, Benton, Boone, Brown, Carroll, Cass, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Crawford, Dearborn, Decatur, DeKalb, Delaware, Dubois, Elkhart, Fayette, Floyd, Fulton, Gibson, Grant, Greene, Hamilton, Hancock, Harrison, Hendricks, Henry, Howard, Huntington, Jackson, Jasper, Jay, Jefferson, Johnson, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Lake, LaPorte, Lawrence, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Monroe, Morgan, Newton, Noble, Ohio, Orange, Owen, Parke, Porter, Pulaski, Putnam, Randolph, Ripley, Rush, Shelby, St. Joseph, Starke, Sullivan, Tippecanoe, Union, Vanderburgh, Vigo, Warrick, Washington, White, Whitley.
  • Multiple bird species have been reported as affected, including American robin, blue jay, brown-headed cowbird, common grackle, European starling, sparrow, house finch, northern cardinal, red-headed woodpecker, and wren.
  • DNR staff have collected samples and submitted them to the Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory. Final laboratory diagnostic results are pending – the cause or transmission is currently unknown and still under investigation.
  • All birds have tested negative for avian influenza, West Nile virus, and other flaviviruses, Salmonella and Chlamydia (bacterial pathogens), Newcastle disease virus and other paramyxoviruses, herpesviruses and poxviruses, and Trichomonas parasites. Other diagnostic tests are ongoing.
  • As the investigation continues, the DNR recommends all Hoosiers remove their birdfeeders, including those for hummingbirds, statewide.

Latest News

Subscribe for Page Updates

Subscribe for e-mail updates

Page updated 7/13/2021

Questions & Answers

  • What are the signs/symptoms of this disease?
    House Finch with swollen eyes

    House Finch with swollen eyes

    Sick Blue Jay

    Blue Jay with crusty eyes

    European Starling with neurological

    European Starling
    with neurological problems

    • Eye swelling, crusty/gummy/closed eyes, head swelling
    • Neurological signs (e.g., tremors, stumbling, weakness, lethargy)
  • What precautions should Indiana residents take?
    • Indiana residents should:
      • Cease feeding birds statewide until the disease outbreak has concluded or more information is available.
      • Feeders, bird baths, or other sources that encourage the congregation of wild birds should be taken down or discontinued. Limiting crowding can help limit the spread of disease.
      • Clean birdfeeders and bird baths with 10% bleach solution and store until the disease outbreak has concluded or more information is available.
      • Avoid handling birds, but wear disposable gloves if handling is necessary.
      • Keep pets (including pet birds) away from sick or dead birds as a precaution.
    • Sick wildlife can be taken to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator.
    • When removing dead birds, wear disposable gloves and place birds in a sealable plastic bag to dispose with household trash.
    • If someone sees a sick or dead bird with the above symptoms, report it to DNR’s sick or dead wildlife reporting system. Reports help DNR staff continue to track this outbreak.
  • How is the DNR managing this outbreak?
    • DNR staff are working with the Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory and the USGS National Wildlife Health Center to determine the cause of mortality.
    • DNR staff are monitoring the severity of the outbreak and determining if other bird species are affected.
    • Protocols for banding operations of wood ducks and doves on DNR properties are being re-evaluated to reduce the potential crowding of birds in light of the recent outbreak.
  • If I remove my bird feeders, won’t local birds starve?
    • DNR does not anticipate that removing feeders will impact populations of wild birds. There are abundant food sources available at this time of year, including insects, berries, and seeds. Birds will shift to those available resources.
  • Do I need to stop feeding all birds?
    • Yes, DNR encourages individuals to stop feeding all birds. DNR has received reports of multiple bird species affected. This includes taking down hummingbird and oriole feeders, and ceasing scattering seeds on the ground. Limiting crowding of wild birds can help limit the spread of disease.
  • Is this illness only affecting birds in Indiana?
    • Several states are experiencing similar bird health issues. States are working together to determine the cause of this illness. DNR encourages non-residents to consult with their respective natural resource agency for guidance relevant to their local area.
  • Should owners of domestic fowl and/or poultry take precautions to prevent the potential spread of the disease to their animals?
    • The Indiana Board of Animal Health's advice is to practice good biosecurity. Keep chickens and other owned birds away from wild birds. Avoid putting feed out where wild birds can access it. For more questions, contact animalhealth@boah.IN.gov. You can also visit their website or follow them on Facebook.