Bird Watching

West Seattle Blog… | WEST SEATTLE WILDLIFE: Suspected local case of highly pathogenic avian influenza and what you need to know about it

Tonight Community Naturalist and Urban Wildlife First Responder Kersti Muul shares the story of what happened when she checked on a report of a bird in trouble in Lincoln Park. What she found includes information you should know in case you come across 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 watching via laptop or desktop):

Today I received a text during my monthly Audubon Neighborhood Bird Survey, about a bird on the shore near the middle seawall.

Right now we have another strong HPAI surge, so I came down to assess the situation and dispatch him or dispose of him properly if he was dead.

As I mentioned in my recent eagle notes, cackling geese and snow geese are now infected. Unfortunately, it was a snow goose. I’ve been watching snow geese flying north over west Seattle for the past month.

I found a large patch of diarrhea and the bird also had what we call “twisted neck”:

Some outward signs of HPAI include:

Twisting of the neck, corneal opacity (cloudy eyes), diarrhea (which can often be light green), sneezing, labored breathing, groggy, head shaking, wobbly walking, lethargy, hunching over, swimming in circles and convulsions at an advanced stage.

In my experiences, death occurs shortly after seizures.

I made a little infographic to help you know what to do if you come across a dead bird (duck, goose, swan, hen, raptor). If you are uncomfortable/unprepared, I can always come out and take care of it.

Infected waterfowl spread to eagles, which are very susceptible. It can also be transmitted to humans if proper precautions are not taken.

If you come across one or decide to get rid of it, PLEASE report it here to follow – this is very important:

I REALLY try to spread the word and educate people about this and how to protect themselves and prevent this from spreading to raptors. West Seattle had a few confirmed cases in the spring. Additionally, 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. His response: “It impacts chickens – backyard birds in that sense. No songbird problem. However, it spreads through bodily fluids, so if the birds are asymptomatic or uninfected, they could spread it that way if saliva or feces are on them etc. The important points, again, are – don’t touch and report.