Wildlife Commission provides update on mysterious songbird disease | Local News

A bird that has been struck by a mysterious disease that has affected birds across the country is shown.

North Carolina Wildlife Commission

From staff reports

North Carolina Wildlife Commission officials recently announced that the outbreak affecting songbirds since May 2020 appears to be abating and, thanks to diligent reports from North Carolina residents, it does not appear to have particularly affected the birds of the state.

The mysterious disease has been reported primarily in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwestern states, and as far south as Virginia with a few cases in Florida. It primarily affected the chicks of larger songbirds, such as blue jays, American robins, European starlings, and Common Blackbirds. The sick birds showed an unusual set of symptoms starting with crusty, swollen eyes that progressed to tremors, an inability to maintain balance, and other neurological issues that ultimately ended in death despite best efforts to treat the birds.

Several state wildlife agencies, conservation organizations and wildlife diagnostic labs have been tracking the outbreak to try to identify a cause, but its source remains a mystery. The hypothetical causes, which include the emergence of the cicada Brood X to a variety of viruses, bacteria and parasites, have all been ruled out.

In North Carolina, lab results from publicly reported deceased birds indicate malnutrition and physical trauma are the cause of death – common dangers to inexperienced young birds. Additional lab reports are still pending, but biologists do not anticipate new findings.

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