State confirms the number of dead songbirds soaring, disease reaches Lawrence County

INDIANA – The state now confirms the number of counties with dead songbirds has more than doubled since Friday.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources Monday reports more than 40 counties in Indiana have reported sick or dying birds including Lawrence County. Dead birds have also been found in Kentucky, Illinois, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, Washington D.C., and West Virginia.

Dead bird

The disease is also impacting poultry farmers. The Indiana State Board of Animal Health sent out a warning Monday afternoon to tens of thousands of poultry farmers urging them to take precautions and to make sure they are socially distancing wild birds from their flocks.

DNR says it’s received nearly 1,195 reports to the portal, with about 200 of those believed to be related to the sick and dying songbirds. That’s roughly double the number of reports they had last week.

Officials are asking Hoosiers across the state to take down the feeders while the state investigates why several species of songbirds are dying.

Sick Blue Jay

Investigators say the birds have shown signs of a neurological illness. Symptoms include swollen eyes with a crusty discharge, breathing trouble, blood from the mouth, and weakness. Death often seems to come pretty quickly to the affected bird. It seems to be a virus and scientists are scrambling to find out what it is and how to stop it.

Officials have ruled out Avian Influenza and West Nile virus.

As the department works with the Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory and the USGS National Wildlife Health Center to determine what is causing the bird deaths. Officials will publish additional information when final diagnostic results are received.

Officials are asking all Hoosiers across the state to remove feeders from their yards, including hummingbird feeders.

In addition to removing bird feeders, DNR officials recommend the following steps for Hoosiers statewide:

  • Use the DNR sick/dead wildlife reporting tool at to alert DNR staff.
  • Stop feeding birds until the mortality event has concluded.
  • Clean feeders and baths with a 10 percent bleach solution.
  • Avoid handling birds. If you need to handle birds, wear disposable gloves.
  • When removing dead birds, wear disposable gloves and place birds and gloves in a sealable plastic bag to dispose of household trash.
  • Keep pets away from sick or dead birds as a precaution.