Pledge To Protect Songbirds From Disease
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A mysterious disease is spreading to songbirds in the U.S. Pledge to do your part to save our songbirds!
Backyard bird watching has exploded in popularity over the last few years, in part because a pandemic forced people to find new hobbies from the safety of their own homes. Now, a mysterious health crisis is spreading throughout North American birds, and birdwatchers may be able to take steps to stop it from getting worse.
The illness was initially reported in the spring of 2021 in Washington, D.C., where common grackles, blue jays, European starlings, American robins, house sparrows, Carolina wrens, and other songbirds began getting sick and dying. Before long, the reports of the disease were being found throughout the Northeastern United States, and spread west as far as Kentucky and Indiana1.
Wildlife officials in the affected states are urging residents to take down their bird feeders as soon as possible, as a precautionary measure. Disease can spread easily around bird feeders and baths, given that several animals can congregate in these places at the same time. Short of completely removing the feeders, wildlife officials recommend cleaning your bird feeders and baths with a 10 percent bleach solution immediately and then once every week2.
One theory links the bird deaths to the cicada Brood X that emerged in 2021. It's possible the disease is brought on by ingesting cicadas that have been sprayed with pesticides. This is a potentially dangerous ecological issue, the National Wildlife Federation warns, as pesticides are an ineffective way to deter cicadas, and put birds as well as bees and butterflies at great risk3.
There are devastating long-term environmental consequences to the mass death of any bird species. Insect populations could bloom, while the seeds and pollen of native flora would have less help in being spread4.
Humans will suffer from the loss of songbirds, too. A sharp drop in the demand of birdseed puts businesses that sell it in a tough spot. Generations born after the sweet songs of these birds no longer fill the air will never know the sense of calm happiness their tweets and chirrups once gave us.
This is a future we can and must avoid.
Sign the Birdbath Pledge below and do your part to protect our songbirds!
- Brandi Fuller, Southern Living (4 August 2021), "Wildlife Researchers Urge Bird-Lovers to Remove Feeders."
- Aristos Georgiou, Newsweek (18 June 2021), "'Mysterious' Bird Illness Prompts Bird Feeder Warning From Officials."
- David Mizejewski, Riley Cassidy, National Wildlife Federation (21 April 2021), "Return of Brood X Cicadas."
- Christopher Arnott, Hartford Courant (6 August 2021), "Bird deaths from mystery illness confirmed in Connecticut; Audubon advises 'no birdfeeders'."
I am taking the Birdbath Pledge to protect the songbirds near my home and throughout North America, so that future generations may enjoy their song, too.
I pledge to:
- Remove any bird feeders or bird baths that cannot be cleaned and maintained.
- Cleaning bird feeders and baths with a 10 percent bleach solution immediately, and once every week after that.
- Refrain from using pesticides on insects that songbirds may be eating
- Never handle wild birds