What is going on with our sparrow population?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by maizy'smom, Sep 4, 2015.

  1. maizy'smom

    maizy'smom Songster

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    Hello folks,
    I will start by saying that I haven't been on BYC for quite a while. I thought that that was a good thing....our three hens are now four years old....we've survived doing bumble-foot surgeries....we were kind of on a smooth-sailing plateau....until this question came up.
    This summer, in our suburban-Philadelphia backyard, we have been experiencing a much higher than normal sparrow mortality rate. Actually, we weren't really aware of any sparrow deaths at all until the last four or five weeks. Over the last month or so, we have found a total, to date, of six dead sparrows, in our back yard, and near our chicken coop. Today, in fact, when we opened the coop to let the girls out for the day, there was another sparrow laying on its back, in the run, in the throes of dying.
    I am wondering if the sparrows are sick and are my girls at risk? Or, are the sparrows, who love to hang out in and around the coop to eat the layer mash, dying because what they are eating in the coop is not good for them? Sort of similar to the idea of not throwing rice at weddings so little birds don't fill up on the rice, get bloated and die of starvation.
    Is any one else having any similar issues? Or can any one offer any words of wisdom?

    I appreciate, as always, the wisdom and experience of everyone here on the forum. Thanks so much,

    mm
     
  2. emmaie892000

    emmaie892000 Songster

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    Marion, NC
    I'd be worried about disease for sure. I rarely find dead birds where I live, only cat catches most of the time.
    Maybe collect a body and see if any colleges or labs near you will do a necropsy and test for disease?
     
  3. maizy'smom

    maizy'smom Songster

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    May 15, 2011
    Philadelphia suburbs
    Oooh! That's a great idea! I wonder what that kind of thing costs.... Well, I'm off to do some research!
     
  4. maizy'smom

    maizy'smom Songster

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    May 15, 2011
    Philadelphia suburbs
    Sooooo..... I've had a conversation with the Animal Control Officer from the township where I work. I asked him if he knew of any reason why we should have had as many sparrow deaths in the last five or six weeks, and he said, "Yes. It's West Nile Virus."

    With that said, does any one know what this means for my hens? Can or need I treat them with something? And if so, what? We have no standing water. We are now using bug repellant on ourselves, quite liberally. What should I watch for in my hens?

    Again, any and all insight is greatly appreciated.


    mm
     
  5. maizy'smom

    maizy'smom Songster

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    May 15, 2011
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    Wow! Thanks! These are great references. I'm still not clear though on how contagious it is to other creatures. For example: just this evening, our cat decided it would be fun to burst through the sliding screen door, grab one of the affected sparrows, and bring it back in to my kitchen and present it to the dog. Fun stuff, hunh?

    mm
     
  6. emmaie892000

    emmaie892000 Songster

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    Marion, NC
    Well from what I understand, you cannot get the virus directly from the bird just from being in contact with it. It did say that predator and scavenger BIRDS could get the disease from hunting or eating dead birds with the virus.
    I think the only link between infected birds and people are the mosquitoes. An infected bird is bitten by a mosquito, which then bites a person, cat, dog, etc. I have read the some cases have been recorded in domestic animals like cats and dogs, but it's been rare. Your cat will most likely be fine, and (if I've read correctly) won't be infected by the bird they brought in.
    Also, this is good news that I've found.

    "Although chickens and turkeys can become infected when experimentally inoculated with the virus or bitten by infected mosquitoes, these birds do not develop the clinical disease. Their immune system quickly responds to infection by producing antibodies that clear the virus from their body. Also, because the virus can be transmitted only through the bite of an infected mosquito, infected poultry present no significant public health risk. Poultry can neither directly infect other birds, animals, or humans, nor act as a reservoir for the virus."
    Source

    So it sounds like your chickens will be fine, you should be worrying about the humans in your family! [​IMG]
    That also correlates with some articles I saw on "sentinel chickens" which they test for West Nile periodically to see if it is in the area, to protect people!

    So basically, your chickens will be fine, and your cat should be okay You shouldn't worry about the sparrows as much as mosquitoes.
     
  7. maizy'smom

    maizy'smom Songster

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    Thanks so much, emmaie! That is pretty much the conclusion I have come to as well. I had a further conversation with the Animal Control Officer today, and he said almost exactly the same thing. We humans have been upping our bug spray usage, and until today's rain (3 ins. and counting) we were really very dry, so there wasn't any standing water to worry about. Once Noah and his relatives clear the area, (we've had two flash flood warnings since 3pm), we'll re-check for any pooled water.

    Thank you again for your interest and assistance. It is very comforting just to have confirmation and consensus. It helps keep my gross-out panic attacks in check.

    mm
     

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