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'Stop Using Bird Feeders And Bird Baths': MassWildlife Warns Of 'Mysterious Illness' Killing Songbirds

BOSTON (CBS) -- The state is urging Massachusetts residents to stop using bird feeders and bird baths and keep an eye out for dead birds due to a "mysterious illness" killing songbirds on the East Coast.

"While the disease is not known to be in New England at this time, we're asking the public to report observations of dead birds and stop using bird feeders and bird baths at this time as a precautionary measure," MassWildlife said Wednesday.

The agency said reports of sick and dying birds with eye swelling, crusty discharge and neurological symptoms started popping up in Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky in late May. Recent reports have come from Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana.

There is still no "definitive cause" of death linked to these reports. The majority of birds affected are reported to be young common grackles, blue jays, European starlings and American robins.

MassWildlife recommends that the public stop feeding birds until the deaths subside. Hummingbird feeders are OK to leave up.

"Birds congregating at bird feeders and bird baths can transmit diseases to one another," the agency said.

Feeders and bird baths should be cleaned with a 10% bleach solution, rinsed with water and allowed to air dry.

The public is reminded to not touch birds with their bare hands, and to keep pets away from sick or dead birds.

Reports of dead birds can be emailed to with a location, description and any photos.



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