With dramatic increase in population of pine siskins, PAWS advises removing bird feeders to combat salmonella

A pine siskin at PAWS. (Courtesy PAWS Facebook page)

According to the Lynnwood-based Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), the U.S. is witnessing one of the biggest reported irruption years of pine siskins in the U.S. Irruptions are sudden, dramatic increases in the abundance of an animal, in this case caused by conifer cone shortages in northern North America.

“The large flocks we are seeing all over Western Washington are incredible to witness. However, this event has caused pine siskins to gather in even larger numbers around bird feeders, which can increase the spread of salmonella, a potentially fatal bacterium,” PAWS said in a Facebook Post.

PAWS said its Wildlife Center has admitted 68 Pine Siskins in the last 60 days and the admissions staff are fielding multiple calls daily about sick siskins. “Usually, we recommend removing feeders for a few weeks when a sick bird is found nearby and cleaning the area thoroughly,” the PAWS Facebook post said. “However, the flocks are so large and cases so frequent right now, we recommend removing your feeders even before you detect a sick bird until the irruptive migrants move on.”

Learn more about how to combat salmonellosis from the Seattle Audubon Society at https://bit.ly/35n19u9.

Learn more about how to make your yard healthy for birds from the PAWS Wildlife Resource Library: https://bit.ly/2Xm3EbO.

General guidelines for clean-up when a sick bird is found:

• Remove feeder for at least three weeks

• Clean feeder with soap and water

• Disinfect feeder with a 10 percent bleach solution

• Wash all nearby surfaces and rake the ground around the feeder (wear gloves when possible)

• Wash your hands (humans can contract salmonella too)

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