Mysterious Illness Affecting Ohio Birds Update

June 28, 2021

From Marne Titchenell

As of September 8, below is from the ODNR, Division of Wildlife’s webpage on the bird illness.

The Ohio Division of Wildlife is lifting its previous recommendation to stop feeding birds. However, caution and vigilance are always necessary to help prevent further spread of diseases at bird feeders.

  • Reports of sick or dead birds possibly affected with the mysterious bird illness in Ohio have slowed considerably. A majority of birds reported with the illness were immature or fledgling birds, and the breeding season is now primarily over.
  • There is still no diagnosis on the cause of the mysterious bird illness. Research is ongoing at multiple labs.
  • Many other songbird diseases can be passed through feeding. It is important to keep feeders clean: use a 10% bleach solution (1 part bleach, 9 parts water), rinse, and let dry at least once a week. Take a break (7-10 days) from feeding if you see sick or dead birds. This prevents birds from congregating and passing transmissible diseases.
  • Symptoms of diseases such as house finch eye disease and salmonellosis include reddish or crusty eyes, and neurological conditions such as poor balance and coordination.

The Division of Wildlife would still like reports of dead birds to be reported HERE.

If you find or observe a sick bird, please contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.


As of August 3 there is little news to report regarding the bird illness, but as I’ve gotten a few questions, here is where we are...I received an update from ODW late last week with the following info:

  • Still no cause determined, but testing is not over yet.
  • USGS and the ODNR’s recommendation  remains to halt feeding until further notice. This is not necessarily because it is definitely due to an infectious agent, but until that can definitely be ruled out, it is a standard precaution.
  • There was one case of poultry being impacted in NE Ohio, but it is unknown if the case was due to the same illness. ODA has been informed.
  • Please urge folks to continue to report sick or dead birds HERE. This includes songbirds, but also raptors and poultry.
  • In brief -  still no conclusions, testing is ongoing, stop feeding until further notice, and continue to report sick/dead birds.   

Additional resources:

July 2 USGS National Wildlife Health Center brief

Division of Wildlife Bird Disease page

OSU Handout on Bird Illness

Previous - As much as we know to date July 7:

Here a few more updates on the songbird illness.

  • Still no cause of illness or death.
  • Continue to encourage folks to report sick or dead birds.
  • The following pathogens have NOT been detected, based on results received to date: Salmonella and Chlamydia (bacterial pathogens); avian influenza virus, West Nile virus and other flaviviruses, Newcastle disease virus and other paramyxoviruses, herpesviruses and poxviruses; and Trichomonas parasites.
  • No human health of domestic livestock and poultry issues have been reported.
  • Recommendation remains to take down feeders and baths until this illness subsides.
  • Recommendation to keep pets (including pet birds) away from sick or dead birds (as standard precaution).


I know folks are resistant to taking down feeders. Here are some things to share with them.

  • While the bulk of the reports are coming in from SW and Central Ohio, other parts of the state are not immune. Reports have come in from NW Ohio, for example.
  • State and District agencies are recommending the removal of bird feeders and bird baths because birds congregate at them and could transmit disease to one another. Taking down feeders and baths prevents this.
  • Birds do not need feeders during the summer. There are plenty of natural foods for them to eat. Stopping disease transmission takes priority.
  • If feeders and baths aren’t taken down, recommend they clean them daily with a 10% bleach solution (rinsed well and allowed to air dry before putting back up) and monitor them daily for sick/dead birds.

See below emails for resources (fact sheet and webpages) I’ve sent in the past. Feel free to call or email me with questions!

Here is the newest release from the National Wildlife Health Center detailing what I shared above.

Marne A. Titchenell, Wildlife Program Specialist, OSU Extension
School of Environment and Natural Resources, College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, 210 Kottman Hall, 2021 Coffey Rd, Columbus, OH 43210, 614-292-0402  Office,

Marne’s Blog, TheWildside@OSU, Marni Titchenell, OSU Extension Wildlife Specialist

Ohio Division of Wildlife, new webpage

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