June 15, 2024

Salmonellosis in Birds Continues to Spread Around the Country

We first told you about salmonellosis in birds, particularly the pine siskin, back in January. Officials in Washington state warned people to take down bird feeders because a large influx of the birds from Canada eating at feeders had caused a Salmonella outbreak.

Salmonellosis in Birds Continues to Spread Around the Country

Sick and dead birds have now been observed in Washington, Oregon, California, Utah, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Because so many sick and dead birds are found in states that span the entire country, the outbreak could be widespread. It’s mostly the little pine siskins that are affected, but some people have noticed sick goldfinches and other bird species.

In birds, the illness is primarily spread through contaminated food or water, but some can be asymptomatic and spread the infection. Sick birds are puffy, thin, and lethargic, with swollen or closed eyes.

Experts are concerned that the illness may spread to people in several ways. First, any cats that are let outdoors may eat the dead or sick birds, get sick themselves, and spread the infection. And if anyone touches a sick or dead bird they could contract the illness.

So it’s a good idea to take down your feeders until later in the spring; at least for at least the next three weeks to give the birds time to disperse and force them to forage for food naturally. If you choose to keep feeders up, they should be cleaned and disinfected at least once a week with a 10% bleach solution. Clean the poles and hooks too, because birds can perch on them. It’s also very important that you clean up spilled seed from around the bird feeders on the ground.

Only federally-licensed wildlife rehabilitates can treat wild birds. If you find a sick or dead bird, do not touch or handle it. Call your veterinarian and ask who you should contact.


  1. Brian Scott says

    Finding many dead birds, mostly Pine Siskins and a few Purple Finches, in the middle Georgia (Byron), area. My senior dog had become sick and think he may have ingested cat feces. A stray cat has been finding easy hunting of slow, sick birds in the yard. All of my feeders are put away and areas cleaned.

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