TWRA confirms no mysterious songbird deaths in Tennessee … yet

TWRA provided this photo of an affected fledgling grackle but stated that Tennessee has not yet confirmed cases of the mysterious songbird illness. (Photo Provided)

STATE WILDLIFE NEWS — In July, a significant number of people in Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana reported mysterious deaths of songbirds. Despite reports from state and federal wildlife officials that the cases seem to be moving into the Southeast, the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency (TWRA) recently confirmed that there are not yet confirmed cases of the disease in Tennessee and there have been no reports of the disease occurring in humans, poultry, or livestock.

The TWRA did state that reports of dead birds have been increasing in Tennessee due to the recent news coverage but that those reports were not currently being confirmed.

Most affected birds were located in the Mid-Atlantic region are young and have included common grackles, European starlings, blue jays, and American robins along with other species of songbirds. Disease experts are diligently working to determine the cause of the disease and have not found signs of infection from known illnesses (i.e. Salmonella, avian influenza, West Nile virus, Newcastle disease, herpesviruses, poxviruses, and Trichomonas parasites). TWRA says it is working closely with regional experts to further explore the cause and to determine if the disease is affecting birds in Tennessee. 

In the meantime, state wildlife officials recommend that locals cease feeding birds and temporarily cover bird baths until “this wildlife mortality event subsides,” they stated. “There is no shortage of food or water sources during summer months.”

If you do encounter a sick songbird, wildlife officials say not to touch it or allow pets or children to touch it with your bare hands. If you find recently deceased birds exhibiting crustiness or bulging eyes and/or neurological issues, please use your discretion to contact the TWRA at (615) 781-6500. •

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