Mysterious condition affecting birds in East


Experts are looking for the cause of the condition that is resulting in many bird deaths, especially around Washington, D.C. and surrounding states. Reports also have been coming from Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. Because one of the places where birds congregate is at bird feeders, it is recommended all feeders be removed for the time being. Bird baths and feeders should be cleaned with a 10% bleach solution.

Reports show the condition seems to especially affect blue jays, starlings and common grackles, but it is likely other birds also may die from whatever is causing the problem.

Black-bellied whistling ducks have successfully nested recently in Ohio and Indiana. Here in Goshen where we live, a pair of whistling ducks took up residence along the well-traveled bike/walking trail in town. Further south in Posey County, Indiana, a pair of whistling ducks is being seen with seven ducklings. It will be interesting to see if this is a one-time event or if it occurs again next summer.

The white-tailed kite in Harrison County was still being seen as of late June, remaining in the same area where it was first discovered in early June. A loggerhead shrike that was observed daily in Northeastern Ohio was recently found dead, presumably having been hit by a car. Other birds reported recently in Ohio include early southbound shorebirds, pine siskin, yellow-headed blackbird, glossy ibis, white pelican and a common raven along state Route 60 in Coshocton County.

Common loons were found at Clearfork Reservoir near Mansfield and at Fidler Pond here in Goshen this week. Summering loons show up from time to time in our area.

Further afield there have been rare bird reports from different parts of the country. A yellow-green vireo in Florida, a red-billed tropic bird in Maine and a little stint in Alaska head the list.

More shorebirds will arrive now that we are into July. Already there have been reports of willets, dunlin, greater yellowlegs, semipalmated sandpipers and least sandpipers.

In case you were wondering about the most numerous birds in the world, a recent report listed the top four: house sparrow, European starling, ring-billed gull and barn swallow. The first two are no surprise, but the last two might be. Three of these four species are found in much of the world, but not the gull, which nests only in North America and winters south to Central America and the Caribbean. Kenn Kaufman recently discussed estimates of the ring-billed gull population. They vary wildly from a few million to over a billion.

And finally, there is good news for shorebirds nesting on islands in the Galapagos and elsewhere, where the use of drones has made it possible to rid islands of rats that have decimated seabird populations.

Good birding.

Bruce Glick can be emailed at

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