People with bird feeders are urged to watch for sick birds after reports of migrating Pine Siskens spreading salmonella by flocking at feeders in parts of the province. (Courtesy of Wildlife Association of BC)

People with bird feeders are urged to watch for sick birds after reports of migrating Pine Siskens spreading salmonella by flocking at feeders in parts of the province. (Courtesy of Wildlife Association of BC)

Vancouver Islanders with feeders cautioned about salmonella outbreak

Pine Siskin birds flocking at feeders, spreading disease, residents warned to watch for sick birds

Vancouver Island bird lover Sabine Almstrom said people with bird feeders in their yards should be aware of an outbreak of salmonella among pine siskin birds that are migrating in great numbers this year from boreal forests up north.

Pine siskins are songbirds that are very small with sharp, pointed bills and short, notched tails.

They breed in northern boreal forests, but range over much of North America.

Almstrom said pine siskins have come down from the northern forests in larger numbers than usual this year because of an insufficient cone crop in those forests to feed them.

“Some have salmonella and they are flocking in large numbers at people’s bird feeders, which is causing the salmonella to spread quickly among them because the disease is highly contagious among flocking birds,” she said.

“There is a call for action (among the birding community) and people with bird feeders, including suet feeders, in the area should take them down for at least two weeks. I have been assured by wildlife experts that birds have enough food in the wild. Hummingbird feeders can stay up, but should of course be cleaned regularly.”

RELATED STORY: DESPITE REPORTS OF DECLINE, BIRDS FLOCKING TO NATIONAL PARKS IN CANADIAN ROCKIES

The Burnaby-based Wildlife Support Centre has confirmed that salmonella is spreading through pine sisken populations after it recently admitted 78 of the birds from across Metro Vancouver who are suffering from the disease.

“Once a bird is infected, mortality rates rapidly increase among all birds who contact the feeder,” the Wildlife Support Centre said in a news release.

“Distressed birds must be handled safely and with care to prevent the spread through animals and humans.”

Bird experts confirm that if you witness a sick bird at one of your feeders, it is imperative to take the feeder down immediately for at least 14 days to prevent flocking, and to help to disperse the birds and limit their exposure to the concentrated feeder.

RELATED STORY: CLIMATE CHANGE THREATENS EXTINCTION FOR MOST BIRDS, ESPECIALLY IN CANADA: REPORT

The Wildlife Rescue Association of BC suggests cleaning all bird feeders once a week with a 10 per cent bleach solution to kill the spread of salmonella, and rinsing with water afterwards.

The other option is to encourage natural feeding behaviours by removing the feeder before the winter months.

“We’ve lost about a third of all birds in North America for a number of reasons, so I think we have a responsibility to do as much as possible for them,” Almstrom said.

“People want to help by putting up feeders, but in a lot of cases, they are just creating more sick birds. The feeders should be cleaned regularly.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

birds

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the legislature, Jan. 11, 2021. (B.C. government)
Vancouver Island smashes COVID-19 high: 47 new cases in a day

Blowing past previous records, Vancouver Island is not matching B.C.s downward trend

Aquaculture employee from Vancouver Island, Michelle, poses with a comment that she received on social media. Facebook group Women in Canadian Salmon Farming started an online campaign #enoughisenough to highlight the harassment they were facing online after debates about Discovery Islands fish farms intensified on social media. (Submitted photo)
Female aquaculture employees report online bullying, say divisive debate has turned sexist

Vancouver Island’s female aquaculture employees start #enoughisenough to address misogynistic comments aimed at them

Mowi Canada West’s Sheep Pass salmon farm, the company’s final B.C. operation to receive certification from the Aquaculture Steward Council. The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) is questioning a government decision to phase out salmon farms in the Discovery Islands. (Photo supplied by Mowi Canada West)
Canadian Federation of Agriculture backs B.C. salmon farmers

Letter to prime minister calls for federal “champion” for aquaculture growth

Vancouver Island North reported just two new cases last week. (BC CDC)
North Island holding COVID-19 mostly at bay

Just two new cases were confirmed last week

Black bear cubs Athena and Jordan look on from their enclosure at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association in Errington, B.C., on July 8, 2015. Conservation Officer Bryce Casavant won the hearts of animal lovers when he opted not to shoot the baby bears in July after their mother was destroyed for repeatedly raiding homes near Port Hardy, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Supreme Court quashes review of North Island conservation officer who refused to euthanize bears

Bryce Casavant was dismissed from his job for choosing not to shoot the cubs in 2015

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

The cost of potentially counting deer regionwide was among the issues that prompted Capital Regional District committee members to vote against pursuing a greater CRD role in deer management. (Black Press Media file photo)
Expanded deer management a non-starter for Greater Victoria

Capital Regional District committee maintains current level of support

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after winning BCLC’s largest-ever instant-ticket prize

Darlene Curylo couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the amount of money she’d won from a scratch ticket

While each person has different reasons for becoming homeless, a UBCO study shows they learn through their interactions with different services to perform ‘as homeless’ based on the expectations of service providers. (Contributed)
Kelowna homeless forced to ‘perform’ for resources, says UBCO study

One participant in the study said ‘It is about looking homeless, but not too homeless’

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns, apologizes for ‘tensions’ at Rideau Hall

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. WestJet will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Passengers unfazed as WestJet returns Boeing 737 Max to service on Vancouver flight

After a lengthy review process, Transport Canada cleared the plane to return to Canadian airspace

Most Read