Updates Related to COVID-19 »

DWR Statement on Sick and Dying Birds in Washington, D.C., Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia

A sick blue jay found in the Washington, D.C., area.

By Dr. Megan Kirchgessner, DWR

Photos by Belinda Burwell, DVM

In late May, wildlife managers in Washington D.C., Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia began receiving reports of sick and dying birds with eye swelling and crusty discharge, as well as neurological signs. No definitive cause of death is identified at this time.

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. Those laboratories include the USGS National Wildlife Health Center, the University of Georgia Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, and the University of Pennsylvania Wildlife Futures Program.

Birds congregating at feeders and baths can transmit disease to one another. Therefore, the state and District agencies recommend that the public in the outbreak area:

  • Cease feeding birds until this wildlife mortality event has concluded;
  • Clean feeders and bird baths with a 10% bleach solution;
  • Avoid handling birds, but wear disposable gloves if handling is necessary; and
  • Keep pets away from sick or dead birds as a standard precaution.

If you encounter sick or dead birds in Virginia, please submit an event report. If you must remove dead birds, place them in a sealable plastic bag to dispose with household trash. Additional information will be shared as diagnostic results are received.

For updates on this event and information about areas affected, please see: 2021 Bird Mortality Event in Northern/Northwestern Virginia

  • June 11, 2021