The Pennsylvania Game Commission has lifted its recommendation to stop feeding birds and take in birdbaths. The agency made the announcement on Friday on its website.
People can place bird feeders and birdbaths back outside, after cleaning with a 10% bleach solution.
The agency had recommended that people stop feeding birds after dead or sick songbirds were reported in 10 states including Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. since late May. Birds were seen with crusty eyes and neurological effects, such as head tremors and difficulty standing.
Reports of potentially impacted birds have decreased in the past several weeks, after nearly 3,000 were submitted by the public from July 1 – 22. The University of Pennsylvania’s Wildlife Futures Program, which has been tracking cases of the disease, plans to close its online reporting form by August 15.
No definitive cause of illness or death has been determined. However, according to the game commission, researchers found no indication that feeding birds or maintaining birdbaths were contributing factors. Research is ongoing.
The game commission has the following guidelines for feeding birds:
- Clean feeders and birdbaths with soap and water, then disinfect with a 10% household bleach solution. After allowing 10 minutes of contact time, rinse with clean water and allow to air dry. This should be done at a minimum weekly basis to prevent the potential spread of any infectious diseases between birds and other wildlife, as well as remove spoiled food.
- When feeding birds, follow expert recommendations such as those listed in Audubon International’s Guide to Bird Feeding.
- Remain vigilant and report any sick or dead wild birds to your local Pennsylvania Game Commission office.
- Keep pets away from sick or dead wild birds.
- Avoid handling wild birds. If you must do so, wear disposable gloves or use inverted plastic bags on your hands to avoid direct contact. Dead birds can be disposed of in a closed plastic bag in household trash or buried deeply (> 3 ft.) to prevent disease transmission to other animals.