Indiana DNR still puzzled in search of cause of mysterious songbird disease


ALLEN COUNTY, Indiana (WPTA21) – One of the top bird experts in the DNR’s Fish and Wildlife Division told reporters on Friday his agency was unable to explain what makes songbirds sick or die across the country.

“I like to compare it to trying to find an unknown object in a haystack, honestly a needle in a haystack, but we don’t even know what that needle looks like. causing exactly these symptoms and trying to rule things out, ”said DNR ornithologist Allisyn Gillet.

Cases of the disease have now been reported in blue jays, American robins, northern cardinals and other songbirds in 53 counties in Indiana, including Allen, Kosciusko, LaGrange and Whitley in the northeast. is state.

The Natural Resources Department says it has confirmed 285 cases of sick or dead birds of an unknown problem, where the birds show neurological signs, swelling of the eyes and a crusty discharge around the eyes.

But it is believed that the number of cases is actually much higher.

The department has ruled out West Nile virus and bird flu.

Samples have been collected and tested to try to find answers to what is going on.

In the meantime, the DNR is reiterating a plea it first launched weeks ago – for now, you better take your bird feeders and baths apart.

“There are abundant food resources available for birds at this time of year, including insects, berries, nectar and seeds. And birds will turn to these available food sources when feeding is stopped. Stopping feeding will then prevent the birds from congregating and potentially spreading the disease to others, ”said Gillet.

“We are following this story very closely. We want to make sure that what causes this wild bird mortality event will not impact our collection of zoos. To date, there have been no reports. in zoos across the United States with zoo birds being affected, ”said Dr. Joseph Smith, director of animal programs at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo.

If you come across a sick or dead bird, you can report it to

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