My grandparents were all about birds; they had Audubon field guides and binoculars in multiple spots in their house. Whenever I visited them in Campbellford, Ontario (that’s in Canada) I always helped fill up their bird feeder with seed.
Who knows how much Salmonella I was exposed to.
According to the Press Democrat, backyard bird feeders are a source of Salmonella for and sharing the seed is probably leading to the demise of some song birds. The pathogen spreads from the bird-to-bird – or the seed itself.
Andrienne Faulkner loves feeding birds.
The 69-year-old Montgomery Village area resident spends about $700 a year on birdseed for the various feeders in the yard.
So when she spotted two dead songbirds in her yard last week — a finch near a garbage can and a pine siskin on her patio — she first thought West Nile virus might be to blame.
She made some inquiries, and was surprised to learn that it wasn’t West Nile that was killing the birds — it was her.
Well, not exactly. The direct cause is likely a salmonella outbreak sweeping through several Bay Area counties.
But by providing birds a place to eat and congregate, Faulkner and other backyard birders may be unwittingly helping spread avian diseases, like the salmonella outbreak now spreading through finch populations in the region.
“I want to feed them, but I don’t want to kill them,” said Faulkner, who said she plans to remove her feeders and clean them as recommended.
The outbreak started about a month ago with a sharp increase in the number of people reporting dead or lethargic songbirds, said Veronica Bowers, founder and director of Native Songbird Care & Conservation in Sebastopol, a rescue center focused on songbirds.
One of the birds taken to her center has since tested positive for salmonella, she said. State Department of Fish and Wildlife officials have alerted her and other rescue centers of outbreaks in Sonoma, Sacramento, Alameda and other Bay Area counties, she said.
In a somewhat related story, a bunch of parrots at the San Diego Zoo have been vaccinated for Salmonella, according to San Diego 6.
About one-third of the small parrots that reside in the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s aviary have been vaccinated to protect against salmonella, which killed some of the flock, zoo officials said today.
“We recently lost some birds to salmonella,” said Bruce Rideout, director of the Wildlife Disease Laboratories for San Diego Zoo Global. “Although unfortunate, we were able to use this loss to take biological samples necessary for isolating the bacteria. These samples became the basis for the vaccine.”
Twenty out of the flock of 60 birds received both an oral and injectable vaccine at the park’s hospital over the past couple of days. The rest will be vaccinated soon, zoo officials said.