To the Editor,
This information is important for all those who enjoy feeding the wild birds at this time of year. I have always had bird feeders up but this year I’ve been torn as to whether to keep them up. Some song birds, like the Pine Siskins are experiencing a high mortality rate due to the Salmonella bacteria. They are gregarious little birds with striping and a strip of yellow on their wings. Apparently many spend most of the winter up in the northern areas of our province unless seed production is low there as it has been this year. Then they come south in large numbers to areas where there is more available.
It’s hard to see great numbers of dead and dying birds people are bringing into wildlife rescue centers around the more southern areas of the province. I have noticed that there was an increase in numbers here in Lumby. I found a dying bird on Cedar Ridge Rd. with signs of the disease in October and just recently I had to watch a bird under my feeder take his last breath. I also have seen at least two others in the past few days showing signs of illness. Feeders help spread the disease by causing the birds to congregate into a small space where any infected ones leave the bacteria in their droppings and anywhere their bills have contacted surfaces. Signs of a sick bird are lethargy, feathers puffed a little or a lot and they don’t move around as much as the others.
At the moment I have kept just one feeder up with a very small amount of seed per day and wash it every evening using either a disinfectant or boiling water. Removing old seed under the feeder is more difficult! I have been shoveling fresh snow over the area under the feeder. None of these actions are ideal and a bit of work ! I am considering taking the feeder down after this very cold snap.
I am usually a softy when it comes to helping out any creature but maybe the old saying ” Killing with kindness” can be applied here. As I ponder the subject I am inclined to agree with those who have been studying bird behavior for a long time when they say that the birds will adjust and begin foraging throughout the forest as they always have.
Keep your eyes out for those sick birds and I hope you can do your best to slow down this disease. The more people who can, the better off they will be and we can enjoy seeing healthy birds in our yards in the future!