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January 27, 2022

Monterey County wildlife officials urge temporary removal of bird feeders

Area experiencing salmonellosis outbreak in migrating Pine Siskins

MONTEREY COUNTY — The Central Coast, Northern California, Oregon and Washington are experiencing a salmonellosis outbreak in migrating Pine Siskins.

Bird feeders are the primary source of transmission for the disease, a bacterial pathogen that is lethal for these small birds. This winter, many Pine Siskins exposed to the bacteria at bird feeders have succumbed to salmonellosis on the Central Coast.

Most of the affected birds are Pine Siskins, small, heavily streaked, yellow-accented finches, but Lesser Goldfinch and other finch species can fall victim to salmonellosis as well. While more rare, this disease can also transmit to outdoor cats.

The bacteria are spread through droppings, especially where bird seed piles up beneath feeders or in-tray feeders where the birds can simply stand among the seeds.

Community members can help stop the spread of salmonellosis by discontinuing backyard bird feeding and remove backyard bird baths through April, to encourage these birds to disperse and forage naturally. Pine Siskins migrate and will move on from the area in March and April.

Infected individuals will appear lethargic, puffed or fluffed-up, with eyes partially closed. Their eyes may also appear swollen, red or irritated.

Anyone who sees a sick bird or any injured or orphaned wild animal can contact the SPCA Wildlife Center for help.

The SPCA Wildlife Center is available for emergency wildlife rescues 24 hours a day. To report injured, sick or orphaned wildlife in Monterey County, call 831-264-5427. 

The SPCA Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center is the only full-service wildlife rehabilitation center serving Monterey County. It operates under permits from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Each year, the SPCA Wildlife Center admits over 2,000 animals for treatment and care.

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