Birders reporting sick redpolls

Brenda Mallory talks about the latest bird sightings in For the Birds.

I have to have a little bit of a brag here; today it was plus-7 degrees. Did you hear that? Not as warm in the northeast but as most often seems to be the case the sun did shine.

Many of you have called about the increasing number of common redpolls coming to the feeders. Included in those reports are the sightings of some birds that seem sick. You will notice these birds easily. They are usually quite puffed up and lethargic. The problem is that birds who feed in large flocks poop where they eat and the result is salmonella. There happened to be a couple articles about pine siskins on the coast having the same issue. The Vancouver Sun and the Province had this information.

What can we do? First, make sure all the old seed is raked up. Clean your feeders with a 10 per cent bleach solution. Air dry the feeders before you put them back. One suggestion was that if sick birds are detected take down the feeders.

Make sure sick birds are picked up. You can put them in a little box. They will most often die. If they do pass on make sure you dispose of the wee bodies in a safe way. I burn the dead birds in a wood stove if it happens that illness comes this way. So far I have not seen any. Wash your hands after handling sick birds.

Sorry to go on and on about that but it did seem important.

I should have mentioned more about all the owls folks seem to be seeing. A couple great grey owls seen across the way near Tyhee Lake. I have heard the saw whet owl most evenings.

Jean from Fort Nelson has a good group of evening grosbeaks at her feeder. She has noticed a couple with the leg mite problem. Does it affect other species? I have never seen the problem on other birds. I am sure someone who knows a lot more that I do will let me know.

I have noticed two ravens who come here every day seeming to be whispering sweet nothings to each other.

I will make more of an effort to mention the many sightings you have called in for next week. Keep the calls coming to 250-846-5095 or just e-mail a note to mallory@bulkley.net.

Brenda Mallory writes For the Birds and Spice of Life.

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