Tonight community naturalist and urban-wildlife first responder Kersti Muul shares the story of what happened when she checked out a report of a bird in trouble at Lincoln Park. What she found includes some information you should know in case you encounter one. The problem is HPAI – Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza – and a warning, this story includes an image of a dead bird (after the jump, if you’re viewing by laptop or desktop):
Today I received a text during my monthly Audubon Neighborhood Bird Project survey, about a bird on the shore by the middle seawall.
Right now we are having another big surge of HPAI, so I went down to assess the situation and dispatch or dispose of it properly if it was dead.
As I mentioned in my recent eagle notes, cackling geese and snow geese are now getting infected. Sadly, it was a snow goose. I’ve been watching the snow geese flying north over West Seattle in the past month.
I found a large spot of diarrhea and the bird also had what we call ‘twisted neck’:
Some outward signs of HPAI include:
Twisted neck, corneal opacity (cloudy eyes), diarrhea (which can often be bright green), sneezing, labored breathing, grounded, shaking head, wobbly walking, lethargy, being hunkered down, swimming in circles, and late-stage seizures.
In my experiences, death happens shortly after the seizures.
I made a little infographic to help with what you should do if you should come across a dead bird (duck, goose, swan, chicken, raptor). If you are uncomfortable/unprepared, I can always come out and deal with it.
Infected waterfowl are spreading to eagles, which are very susceptible. It can also be transmitted to humans If the proper precautions are not taken.
If you come across one, or do decide to dispose of it, PLEASE report it here to track – it’s super-important:
I’m REALLY trying to get the word out and educate people on this and how to protect themselves as well as stopping it from spreading to the raptors. West Seattle had a few confirmed cases in the Spring. Also, the adult female eagle from Salmon Creek Ravine was likely infected with HPAI. She was euthanized after declining neurologically.
We asked Kersti if this is something people might see in backyard birds. Her reply: “This impacts chickens so – backyard birds in that sense. No songbird issue. However, it is spread through bodily fluids so if birds are asymptomatic or not infected they could spread it that way if the saliva or feces is on them, etc.” The important points, again, are – don’t touch, and do report.