By James Taylor

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Backyard bird feeders are blamed for birds dropping dead across the region.

Many backyard bird watchers enjoy the soft chirping sounds of songbirds, but now the feeders people put out to attract the animals may be unintentionally killing them.

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“It’s a super-spreader event when they gather at the bird feeders,” Wildlife Care Association volunteer Terri Muzik said.
“We’re asking folks to please take them down so we quit seeing these birds that are so sick.”

The birdfeeders are being blamed for spreading a deadly disease.

“It’s officially known as salmonellosis. Unfortunately, it’s very contagious,” Muzik said.

Sacramento’s Wildlife Care Association has seen more than 30 birds brought in since January suffering from the bacteria,  and all have died.

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“We see a little bit of it, but this year has been really bad. It is not something that they will generally recover from,” Muzik said.

So just how is the outbreak being spread?

“Siskins, which are the primary carrier of it, are a migratory bird. They come through here in the winter and stop at the birdfeeders, eat the birdseed hang out with the other birds and unfortunately they’re carrying the disease,” Muzik said.

Now wildlife officials say the feeders should be removed until the springtime – when the migrating birds have moved on.

“We know that the public is very well intended, trying to make food available in the winter for these birds. Please recognize that you’re doing more harm than good at this point, the birds will find food, it’s out there,” Muzik said.

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People who find dead birds are asked to report them online to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to help track the spread of the disease.