Birds dying in Indiana and Kentucky remains a mystery

Multiple reports of songbirds are dying across Indiana and Kentucky and no one knows why.
Published: Jun. 26, 2021 at 9:57 AM EDT
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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WAVE/CNN) - A puzzling phenomena is making bird lovers across the state of Indiana scratch their heads. Songbirds are dying across the state and no one knows why.

“There’s hundreds and hundreds of different species of birds in our state and just going and finding them and never knowing when and where you’re going to find a bird is the excitement of it,” birder Jesse Greene said.

Greene has been birding since he was a kid. Now, he says a lot of that excitement has turned into concern.

“It is heartbreaking,” Greene said. “I think there’s some anxiety with not knowing.”

The Department of Natural Resources warns that songbirds have now died in fifteen counties across Indiana and more across the region.

“I’ve never seen them exhibit the gooey eyes and crustiness in addition to the neurological symptoms,” Allisyn Gillet, DNR ornithologist said.

Gillet says she’s getting reports of nearly a dozen songbirds a week. in the last month, she says they’ve had at least 100 reports and no one knows exactly what’s causing it.

“The fact that it’s happening kind of, in pretty different parts of the country, means that there’s probably something more complex going on, and might be a bit more challenging to control,” Daniel Becker, Indiana University Postdoctoral Researcher said.

DNR says if there are reports in your area, take down your feeders and keep a safe distance for your pets and yourself.

“I think just letting nature do its thing and us trying to stay out of it as much as possible is so important,” Greene said. “I think nature takes care of itself.”

In Kentucky, reports of sick and dying birds have come from Jefferson, Kenton and Boone counties. So far, species affected have been blue jays, common grackles and European starlings, but other species may be affected as well.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife says you should clean feeders and bird baths with a 10 percent bleach solution immediately, then weekly thereafter. Avoid handling birds, but if you have to wear disposable gloves. Keep pets away from sick or dead birds as a standard precaution.

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