“Stop feeding birds and take down your feeders” says Indiana Department of Natural Resources

In late May of this year songbirds were turning up sick and dying in Monroe County, Indiana, home of Indiana University. Birds were found with swollen and crusty eyes and neurological issues. Affected birds have also been found is several other counties, though not in ours. Species mostly affected are the blue jay, American robin, common grackle, starling, northern cardinal and brown-headed cowbird. We have seen all of these birds regularly at our backyard feeders.

On Friday May 25, 2021 the Indiana DNR issued the following for residents in all Indiana counties: So far testing has only confirmed that the dead birds have not succumbed to avian influenza and West Nile virus. Stop feeding birds until the mortality event has concluded. Clean feeders and baths with a 10% bleach solution. Avoid handling birds. If you need to handle birds, wear disposable gloves.

Further updates may be found at this DNR website.

Our feeders are now empty. Tomorrow we’ll take them down and sanitize them. At least the past year has taught us how to sanitize! Sad that now our birds are in a way on their own lockdown.


58 thoughts on ““Stop feeding birds and take down your feeders” says Indiana Department of Natural Resources

  1. This is very interesting, if distressing. Thanks for publicizing it. With luck, it will be one of those short-term things that runs its course. For some reason it surprised me that it was affecting bluejays and robins. I don’t know why, of course — maybe the bluejays especially seem as though they should be impervious to disease!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I know there are cycles and a few weird events through the years where thousands of birds just fall down dead from where they flew. Strangest thing. Such mysteries in life boggle the mind. Hope it clears up soon for them. Thanks for letting us know.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: “Stop feeding birds and take down your feeders” says Indiana Department of Natural Resources – Tonya LaLonde

  4. Early spring, there was a problem with Salmonella in the local birds. People in my city had to empty their birdbaths and feeders to prevent spreading salmonella to other birds.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Humm. Interesting. I feel so badly for the birds and hope that everyone heeds the advice and quits feeding them until it gets under control. You say above that it started in DC. Is it gone from there, or is there an issue still all the way from DC to Indiana?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh my gosh, how horrifying. 😥 I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t see my beautiful birds flying around each day. I saw a Gold Finch this morning for the first time this year. Reading your post makes me appreciate my fine feathered friends just that much more. 🦅🦜🕊🐦 Thank God, for now, we don’t see that problem in my area, and I truly hope that we never will. Thanks for sharing! 😊


  7. All of the birds you mention come regularly to our feeders. Over the winter I took part in the Birds Canada Feederwatch and I got used to using binoculars to check sparrows and Goldfinch for signs of eye problems. I did not see any thanks goodness and I now keep a binocular eye on all the birds. I know out in BC they were told to take down their feeders but so far here in Ontario we have been spared. Good for you for taking yours down and sanitizing them.


  8. Oh no not the little birds?! You are right it is like they are in lockdown. I wash quartz water bowl out weekly with bleach as algae can flourish….all our birds here are well (touch wood). I too LOVE to feed & care for the birds. I noticed Penelope the Mourning Dove is limping today, so I put out seeds were she likes to hang out, so she does not have far to walk….I hope someone can figure out what is making the birds there ill & can fix the situation….
    Sincerely Sherri-Ellen aka LadyMew & *pPurrss** from bird lovin BellaDharma


  9. I’m from Indiana myself and have seen this story quite a few times. While I find it sad that something is happening with the birds it boggles my mind that they think stopping feeding and sanitizing feeders would do anything at all. Logic tells you that birds do not just land on feeders, they hop everywhere outdoors. If whatever is happening is contagious we’d need to sanitize the grass, trees, outside of buildings and on and on. If they found that a brand of bird seed was the culprit I could see telling folks to dispose of it and clean their feeder but any other source it makes no sense at all. Here’s hoping they figure it out sooner rather than later.


    • The articles I have seen indicate that ceasing feeding stations will lessen the chance of close contact between birds causing the spreading of whatever this is. I have not seen any reference to direct contact with trees, grass etc. being a source of spreading to birds.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, but that is my point. Birds are still going to be in close contact regardless if there are feeders or not. Think of the powerlines full of birds all lined up, I’ve seen it many many times, there is no food to call them there. Only time will tell what is the cause but I’m highly skeptical that ceasing to feed them will help the problem at all.


  10. Pingback: Our backyard bird feeders are back in service | Roadtirement

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