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February 2006


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Kent McFarland <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Vermont Birds <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 28 Feb 2006 14:46:29 -0500
text/plain (44 lines)
VINS has received many reports of sick and dying 
<http://www.birds.cornell.edu/BOW/CORE/>Common Redpolls at bird 
feeders around the state. We have sent some samples for testing and 
they have come back positive for Salmonella.  We advise people to 
clean their bird feeders with a 10% bleach solution and clean up all 
seed waste that may be on the ground.

These birds come from the north where they may not be exposed to 
pathogens common in our year-round backyard birds. Salmonella is 
commonly isolated from House Sparrows for example. That, coupled with 
the fact that they congregate in large numbers around a concentrated 
food source and come into contact with infected droppings.  The warm 
weather this winter and lack of snow cover (on top of old seed on 
ground to hide it and freeze it) has probably increased transmission.

Salmonellosis is caused by a bacteria belonging to the genus 
Salmonella. It is a common cause of mortality in feeder birds, but 
the symptoms are not always obvious. Sick birds may appear thin, 
fluffed up, and may have swollen eyelids. They are often lethargic 
and easy to approach. Some infected birds may show no outward 
symptoms but are carriers of the disease and can spread the infection 
to other birds.

It is primarily transmitted by fecal contamination of food and water 
by sick birds, though it can also be transmitted by bird-to-bird 
contact. Occasionally, outbreaks of the disease cause significant 
mortality in certain species.

For more information visit the 
Wildlife Health Center.

Kent McFarland
Conservation Biology Department
Vermont Institute of Natural Science
27023 Church Hill Rd.
Woodstock, VT  05091
802-457-1053 x124

Visit the CBD Blog: http://www.vinsweb.org/cbd/news.html