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2021 Bird Mortality Event in Northern/Northwestern Virginia

In late May, wildlife managers in multiple states, including Virginia, began receiving reports of sick and dying birds that were exhibiting eye issues (swelling, crust discharge, etc.), along with neurological symptoms. Frequently reported species and age classes observed exhibiting these symptoms were young common grackles, blue jays, European starlings, and American robins. Other species of sick songbirds have also been reported but in much lower numbers. No human health or domestic livestock and poultry issues have been reported thus far. DWR has been monitoring the extent of the event in the Commonwealth through the submission of dead or sick bird reports from the public and with the help of collaborating entities located in the affected area.

Affected Areas

Virginia was one of the first states that received reports of birds displaying eye and neurological signs. As a result, since early June, DWR, along with other local collaborating organizations, has been documenting dead or sick bird reports and submissions to cooperating wildlife rehabilitation hospitals. From these data, DWR was able to target our response guidance to the areas of Virginia most likely to be affected by this mortality event.

DWR Statements and Updates

Are bird mortality events rare?

Bird mortality events are not uncommon.  Several aspects make this particular event unique, including the specific age and species of the affected birds, the extensive geographic scope, the duration of reported mortalities, and the fact that the initial reports were received from an urban area. The response and resulting recommendations to this and most all avian mortality evens, however, has remained the same. Affected birds are sent to a wildlife health laboratory for diagnostic investigation and residents of known affected areas are advised to minimize potential disease transmission by removing bird feeders and baths until the event has concluded. Once all of the diagnostic investigations involving this event are complete, the hope is that we will be better able to tailor our diagnostic investigative response and guidance to the public for future bird mortality events.

DWR Sick or Dead Bird Mortality Reporting Form