Birds Canada has noted a major interruption in pine siskins across North America in this winter of 2020/2021. PROWLS has also seen an increase in the number of pine siskins we have treated this season.
What’s going on with the pine siskins?
From Birds Canada: “Bird experts believe that a shortage of conifer seeds in the Boreal Forest of northern Canada has forced these birds to come south in record numbers looking for food. Pine Siskins have been seen at feeders in unusually high numbers. Unfortunately, an outbreak of salmonella has been reported among Pine Siskins visiting feeders, but those who feed birds can help stop the spread by taking immediate action.”
How to recognize salmonella in pine siskins
The salmonella bacteria grows on old mouldy nyger and sunflower seed and bird feces, and pine siskins are especially vulnerable to this infection. Because they flock and forage together in large groups, it is spread easily.
Telltale signs of salmonella infection are:
– fluffiness and ruffled feathers;
– seeds stuck on the bill
– lethargy / easy to approach
If you see a sick bird at your feeder, please contact PROWLS via our 24/7 emergency phone line.
Feeder maintenance is the solution
There are several straightforward actions you can take to help our local pine siskins.
It is essential to keep our bird feeders clean. Some feeders are better designed to not allow old seed to pile up in the bottom — something to consider when next buying a bird feeder. The ground below feeders needs to be cleaned to prevent build-up of hulls, uneaten seeds, and other waste. This can be done by spreading a cloth beneath the feeder for easy removal.
Mouldy or spoiled food is also unhealthy for your outside pets, and bird food scattered on the ground can also attract unwanted rodents.