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To Lower Disease Spread, FWC Urges Public To Keep Bird Feeders Clean

A red cardinal
Karen Parker
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

To lower the potential spread of disease, state wildlife officials want Florida residents to keep their bird feeders clean. They’re already getting multiple reports about sick or dead songbirds of a certain species in the North Florida area in the last month.

Through the “Online Wild Bird Mortality Surveillance System,” the public can report sick or dead birds to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. And, FWC Spokeswoman Michelle Kerr says her agency has already received about a dozen reports in the Panhandle and North Central Florida area.

“We’ve been tracking those mortalities of cardinals, and two carcasses were tested for salmonella. And, salmonella is widely transmitted among wild birds through bird feeders. Bird feeders and birdbaths can be breeding grounds for bacteria. So, it’s important to let the public know to regularly clean their bird feeders.”

Kerr says people should use a diluted bleach solution to clean their bird feeders and bird baths every two to three weeks and rake clean any debris—like any bird feed or feces—that accumulate around the feeder.

Kerr adds there are a few things to look for to report sick birds.

“Sick cardinals appear to move slowly, often hiding on the ground in vegetation and they have limited ability to fly,” she added. “So, if you notice any of these systems in cardinals or other song birds in your backyard. You can report it to the ‘Mortality Surveillance System.’ That is at”

The affected areas so far Santa Rosa, Bay and Holmes as well as Dixie, Marion, Flagler and Duval counties.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner .

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