Metro Parks removes bird feeders and asks residents to please do the same

Public Information Manager

Visitors can still see birds in the woods from the nature center windows despite the feeders being temporarily down as a precaution due to a mysterious illness.  Photo Andrea Krava

Naturalists and staff at Metro Parks have removed bird feeders from the parks as birds in Ohio and other states are suffering from an illness that causes swollen eyes, neurological symptoms and even death. Birds congregating at feeders and baths can transmit the disease to one another. As of right now, a definitive cause is not known but scientists and researchers are working to solve this mysterious puzzle.

Blue jays, grackles, robins and house sparrows are dying and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources says songbirds also are being affected. Despite the feeders being down at the parks, there are still plenty of places to see birds. Birds won’t suffer if you take your feeders down as there’s plenty of wild food available this time of year.

Head out to the blinds and watch ring-necked ducks, hooded mergansers and other waterfowl gliding on Thoreau Lake at Blendon Woods Metro Park.

Check out the grassland trails at Slate Run Metro Park or the 156-acre wetland and you might see red-winged blackbirds, meadowlarks, indigo bunting, belted kingfishers and a variety of other birds.

Red-winged blackbirds other land birds are plentiful in the marshes and wetlands at Pickerington Ponds Metro Park. Photo Doug Crawford

Pickerington Ponds is an avian hotspot for observing more than 260 species of birds. A good place to start is the Wood Duck Picnic area. Take the Killdeer Trail back to the Pintail Marsh. You’ll see mallards, egrets, red-winged blackbirds and a variety of sparrows and many more birds. You might even see sandhill cranes flying overhead.

We encourage residents to take the following precautions that the Ohio Wildlife Center advises to help our feathered friends.

  • If you find an ill bird, you may bring it to the Ohio Wildlife Center Hospital (2661 Billingsley Rd. Columbus, Ohio 43235).
  • Be sure to wear gloves when handling the bird or gently push the bird into a box without picking the animal up.
  • The hospital’s hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
  • Take down your bird feeders and clean them with a 10 percent bleach solution. Wait 7-10 days before using them again.
  • Clean bird baths. Wait 7-10 days before refilling.
  • Share with others so they are educated about this situation.

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