“All-clear” to Feed Birds Again in Ohio

red-breasted nuthatch feeding on suet - darlene sillick.jpg

It’s okay once again to fill up your bird feeders and bird baths.

The Ohio Division of Wildlife on Sept. 8 lifted its previous recommendation to stop feeding birds in the wake of a mysterious disease that was leading to sick and dying birds in Ohio and other states in the Midwest, Northeast and South.

Reports of sick or dead birds possibly affected with the illness in Ohio have slowed considerably, the Division said on its website. A majority of birds reported with the illness were immature or fledgling birds, and the breeding season is now primarily over.

There is still no diagnosis on the cause of the mysterious bird illness. Research is ongoing at multiple labs.

One theory is that the outbreak was related to the emergence of the Brood X cicadas this year, since the distribution and the timing of the illness coincides with the arrival of the cicadas. But there is still no confirmation of that theory, according to the Cornell Wildlife Health Lab.

But it is still important to keep your feeders clean, because many other songbird diseases can be passed through feeding. The Division of Wildlife recommends using a 10% bleach solution (1 part bleach, 9 parts water) at least once a week. After cleaning, rinse and let dry. Take a break (7-10 days) from feeding if you see sick or dead birds. This prevents birds from congregating and passing transmissible diseases.