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Help protect wild birds from deadly salmonellosis

Below is a message from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to anyone using backyard bird feeders. More information here.

Recent reports of sick or dead birds at backyard feeders in King, Kitsap, Skagit, Snohomish, and Thurston counties is prompting the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to recommend that people temporarily discontinue feeding wild birds or take extra steps to maintain their feeders.

The current die-off of finches- such as pine siskins- as well as other songbirds, is attributed to salmonellosis, a common and usually fatal bird disease caused by the salmonella bacteria, according to WDFW veterinarian Kristin Mansfield.

"When birds flock together in large numbers at feeders, they can transmit the disease through droppings and saliva,” said Mansfield.

The spread of the disease this winter could be exacerbated by what appears to be an “irruption” of winter-roaming finches- an anomaly where finches and other species that generally winter in the boreal forest in Canada and the far north move south and are spotted in areas in larger numbers than non-irruption years. (More information on irruption is available from this National Audubon Society website.)

“The first indication of the disease for bird watchers to look for is often a seemingly tame bird on or near a feeder. The birds become very lethargic, fluff out their feathers, and are easy to approach. This kind of behavior is generally uncommon to birds,” Mansfield said. "Unfortunately, at this point there is very little people can do to treat them. The best course it to leave the birds alone.”

Members of the public can help to stop the spread of salmonellosis by discontinuing backyard bird feeding until at least February, to encourage birds to disperse and forage naturally.

"Birds use natural food sources year-round, even while also using backyard bird feeders, so they should be fine without the feeders," Mansfield said.

Those who choose not to discontinue wild bird feeding are encouraged to clean feeders daily by first rinsing the feeder well with warm soapy water, then dunking in a solution of nine parts water and one part bleach. Finish by rinsing and drying before refilling. Keep the ground below the feeder clean by raking or shoveling up feces and seed casings.

People are also asked to reduce the number of feeders they offer to a quantity they will be able to maintain with daily cleanings, use feeders that accommodate fewer birds (such as tubes rather than platforms), and spread  out feeder locations. Keeping bird baths and fountains clean is also important.

It is possible, although uncommon, for salmonella bacteria to transfer from birds to humans through direct contact with infected birds, droppings, or through domestic cats that catch sick birds. When handling birds, bird feeders or bird baths, it is best to wear gloves and wash hands thoroughly afterward.

WDFW is asking members of the public to report dead birds that they observe online, and asks the public to avoid handling them if possible.

 

Video of a Barn Owl exiting a building

Mary Duvall, a volunteer for the Cowlitz-Columbia Christmas Bird Count on Jan. 1, 2021, took this video of a Barn Owl exiting the barn at the Whipple Tree Farm east of Clatskanie while Darrel Whipple was entering the other end of the building.

 

Winter2020 Whistler is online

The Winter 2020 Whistler is available now.

Click to Download the pdf

 

Read more of its content: 

  • President message: A Chant at Solstice
  • Christmas Bird Count are on - see the dates
  • Membership Form/regional Bird Festival info
  • Children’s Discovery Museum: Discovering a Wonderful World during Covid19
  • A quarter-million swifts roosted in Rainier!

 

 

 

 

 

Children’s Discovery Museum:  Discovering a Wonderful World

The Children’s Discovery Museum in Longview is currently closed due to COVID-19, but it is maintaining a presence in the community by offering daily links to websites of interest to kids on its Facebook page.

These include short presentations, many of them videos, on birds, plants, animals, chemistry, astronomy, and other science as well as stories, songs, experiments and activities, and travel destinations. For every link that is posted there are many more sites of interest on similar topics. We are putting a link on our WHAS website to these offerings and encourage you to explore further.

Happy surfing!

 

Winter Raptor Survey Slide Presentation

Check out this slide presentation by Jeff Fleischer of East Cascades Audubon, coordinator of the Winter Raptor Survey Project.  Several members of Willapa Hills help with survey routes in Cathlamet and Puget Island, Grays River, Naselle and Rainier, OR. 

The presentation is packed with information and is a great way to continue birding education during the long winter and while Covid19 keeps us isolated. 

 

A quarter-million swifts roosted in Rainier!

Hats off to Carolyn Norred and her crew of volunteers! They documented 270,052 Vaux’s Swift “roostings" at Riverside Community Church in Rainier during the southbound migration. The only roost site to beat Rainier was the McNear Brickyard in San Rafael, CA.

Details are below in Larry Schwitters's summary of the count.

 

Hummingbirds in Slow Motion

Have you ever wondered about Hummingbirds?

Here is a video with over 20 amazing facts, it includes slow motion footage of the bird hover and fly backwards in hd. It would make a great short clip for school nature projects.

Vaux's Swifts in Rainier Oregon

Vaux's Swifts are starting to roost in the Riverside Community Church chimney in Rainier. We already had a few readings getting up to 20,000.

Folks wishing to check out this phenomenon for themselves will have the best chance from half an hour before sunset until half an hour after sunset. The southward migration of the swifts from all over the Northwest starts in September, affording us more opportunities to view thousands of them entering the chimney. You can watch them from the lower parking lot accessible from W C St next to Fox Creek.

Larry Schwitters of Vaux’s Happening recently sent out the rankings for the top 14 roost sites on the flyway for the northbound migration. Rainier's Riverside Community Church ranked second or third in all three categories! Southbound migration usually has far larger numbers -- check it out and say hi to Carolyn and Art.

Fall 2020 Whistler is online

The Fall 2020 Whistler is available now.

Click to Download the pdf

 

Read more of its content: 

  • President message: Life in the Floodplain
  • Christmas Bird Count dates
  • Membership Form / Regional Bird Festival info
  • Coastal Purple Martin Project Update
  • Board Meetings on Zoom - Members Welcome
  • 2020 Summer Update for the Cowlitz County Bird List
  • Vaux's Swifts are starting to roost in the Riverside Community Church chimney in Rainier
  • Finding a Snipe

 

 

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