Local man fears bird salmonella has arrived in the Okanagan

Bird salmonella in valley?

UPDATE 10:44 a.m.

Debra Pender tells Castanet she has found a couple of small, dead songbirds on her property on Richter St. and Elliot Ave. in Kelowna.

"I saw the story on Castanet and cleaned my feeder but I still found two dead birds in the last few weeks," says Pender.

"It makes me really sad,"

Pender says she became a bird enthusiast, known as a birder, when the pandemic started and she has been cleaning her feeders diligently for the past while after learning of the bird salmonella outbreak.

"I called wildlife and they said it sounds like you've got an outbreak because of the two dead birds," says Pender.

The Wildlife Association advised Pender that she should take her feeders down for the next two weeks.

Pender says she got into bird watching and bird feeding when the COVID-19 pandemic started, "we've had so many of the little birds it was kind of breaking my heart not to be feeding them right now."

"When I saw the (story) today, I thought the last thing I want to do is to not have any of these birds ever," so Pender has taken her feeders down for the time being.

ORIGINAL 4:00 a.m.

An outbreak of salmonella in parts of British Columbia has sparked concern for tiny songbirds like the pine siskin.

One local birder fears the outbreak may have reached the BC Interior as well.

The situation has been the most severe in the Lower Mainland, where the BC Wildlife Rescue Association has reported 127 sick siskins in 2020, including 75 last month. So far in January, 36 sick ­siskins have been brought in. Pine siskins and other tiny songbirds are dying across the province from a suspected salmonella outbreak linked to bird feeders and baths.

One Kelowna bird enthusiast has reported they found a dead pine siskin in their Kelowna yard last week.

Xenon Tyner tells Castanet the bird was found near the bird feeder even though the family took precautions to clean it.

"The bird showed no sign of external injury and was not found under a window, so we believe it is more likely that it was killed by disease than a collision or a free-roaming neighbourhood cat."

Tyner wants to share the information in an effort to let other Okanagan residents know, "so that they can take action to remove their feeders for the time being, to prevent the spread of the disease on a local basis."

Tyner sent Castanet a photo of the deceased bird, which looks like a pine siskin, with its distinctive yellow feathering.

Salmonella attacks the digestive system, making it difficult for birds to feed, and is transmitted by fecal contamination of food and water as well as contact with other birds, according to the BC Wildlife Rescue Association.

Bird feeders and baths are one of the quickest ways this disease spreads, so anyone who has a bird feeder is asked to remove them for the time being. Cleaning bird feeders and birdbaths are also recommended. Soap and water works well for the first cleaning. A second cleaning using a 10 per cent bleach and water solution can help prevent the spread of salmonella among the tiny songbird population.

It's important to understand that salmonella is contagious to humans and pets, so seeds and droppings should be cleaned up with care.

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