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Salmonella outbreak killing Utah songbirds, what you can do

Mar 10, 2021, 7:00 PM
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Evening grosbeaks. Photo: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

SALT LAKE CITY — The Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) has received reports of sick and dead birds near bird feeders in northern Utah. The division said the sightings may go along with reports of a salmonella outbreak killing songbirds in Oregon and Idaho.

Officials in those states have asked residents who have birdfeeders or birdbaths in their yards to take down the feeders for a period of time.

Salmonella outbreak traced to bird feeders

The same is being asked of Utah residents, especially if they see sick or dead birds around their bird feeders.

“If you do see sick or dead birds in your neighborhood,” said Faith Jolley with the DWR, “we ask that you actually take down your bird feeder or water containers, or birdbaths, for about a month, just to make it so that birds aren’t congregating so heavily right now.”

A term we became more knowledgeable about during the global pandemic is applicable to the bird population in this instance.  The possibility of a contaminated feeder becoming a “super spreader” is real.

Seed feeders become possible superspreaders of Salmonella when they get wet, then, birds that eat seeds spread the Salmonella in their droppings according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Remove and clean your bird feeders

After temporarily removing the bird feeders from your lawn, it’s important to clean them thoroughly.

“Wash it with soap and water, and we do ask that you try to disinfect it as well with a 10% bleach solution,” Jolley told KSL.

“And so you’ll soak it in that bleach solution about 30 minutes. Rinse it off, let it dry completely before you hang it back up and put bird seed back in.”

Officials also request you give them a call if you have more than five sick or dead birds in your yard.

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Salmonella outbreak killing Utah songbirds, what you can do