Sequoia Audubon Society
                              San Mateo County, California

Sick/ Injured Birds or Baby Birds in Distress

If you have dead or sick birds in your yard:

If at all possible please leave the baby where it is because the adults will usually continue to feed and care for it.

To report a baby bird in distress please contact the Peninsula Humane Society Wildlife Rescue,
first call 650-340-7022, if directed take it to their center at 1450 Rollins Rd, Burlingame

Salmonella Outbreak:

This is an irruption year for finches, and so we are getting a lot of pine siskins at feeders. Many of us love being able to watch birds at feeders, especially when home is now where we work, study, study or just sit and try to relax.

However, along with the concentrations of birds at feeders has come disease. All birder communication channels are reporting birds sick with salmonella.  Mostly finches – siskins, goldfinches.

I'd like to urge you all to be alert to sick birds, and to be ultra-careful about your feeders.

Ideal would be to take down feeders until the birds migrate back north (which should be soon).  Next is to clean and sanitize your feeders often*. And to clean the ground below where infected feces may fall, as well as tray feeders.

How do you know if a bird is sick?
Sick birds may appear thin, fluffed up, and depressed and may have poop stuck to their vents and swollen eyelids. They are often lethargic and easy to approach. Some infected birds may show no outward signs, but are carriers of the disease and can spread the infection to other birds.

The Bird Rescue Center (Santa Rosa, CA) reports that at the start of February it has 203 birds in rehab, 62.5% more than last year this time (or other years at the same time). And now over 50% of the birds it takes in are due to Salmonella, primarily Pine Siskins.

This outbreak started in Nov, and is not getting any better - "The Bird Rescue Center is recommending all seed feeders, suet feeders, and bird baths stay down until late spring when Pine Siskins migrate back north - not just the "standard" 3-4 weeks - due to the severity of the current outbreak."

When it is time to put them back out, make sure to clean them including a bleach rinse!
Bleach Rinse: 1 part bleach to 9 parts water. Soak feeder for 10 minutes. Rinse thoroughly in clear water and make sure it is totally dry before replenishing with seed!

Finally, remember that providing food for birds doesn't have to be limited to feeders. Creating a bird-friendly environment can provide a dependable food supply year-round. With a little effort, you can turn your yard into an oasis for birds. If you have only an apartment balcony, perhaps you could grow some bird-friendly plants in pots.


Salmonella Outbreak Links:

Bird Rescue Center of Sonoma County - Salmonellosis

Finch Network - Salmonella in Irruptive Finches


How to Properly Clean Your Bird Feeders & Birdbaths

If you have dead or sick birds in your yard:

• Immediately REMOVE bird feeders and birdbaths.
• Disinfect with bleach solution (9 parts water to 1 part bleach.)
• Scrub well to remove all debris and allow to soak 10 - 20 minutes.
• Rinse very well and allow to dry.
• Do not rehang feeders or bird baths for at least one month after the last sick or dead bird is seen in your yard.
• Resterilize and allow to dry before rehanging.
• Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling feeders or baths.

If you have not yet seen sick or dead birds:

Please use the following guidelines as preventative measures to protect your local birds from a outbreaks of Salmonella and other avian diseases. These measures should also be practiced as regularly scheduled maintenance to ensure healthy birds:

• Bird feeders should be disinfected every two weeks regardless of disease outbreaks.
• Bird baths should be emptied and cleaned daily regardless of disease outbreaks.
• For feeders: Do not use wooden feeders (see link below). Immerse feeders in bleach solution (9 parts water to 1 part bleach.) Soak 10 minutes, scrub, rinse thoroughly and allow to dry fully, ideally in the sun, before refilling (a dry feeder will deter mold growth on seeds).
• For baths: You can make a 9:1 bleach solution in a jug to bring outside. Scrub with a hard brush, cover with board while soaking to prevent birds bathing in bleach, rinse very thoroughly, allow to dry before refilling.
• For hummingbird feeders: NO BLEACH! Change food often. Clean and fill with only enough to last 1-2 days (sooner if gets cloudy/moldy). Use vinegar and water in a 9:1 solution (9 parts water to 1 part vinegar) and special bottle brushes to get into small holes. Rinse thoroughly!
• Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling feeders or baths.

Click here for additional information on Wild Care Bay Area.

2021 S.A.S.