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Aug 25 15 2:19 PM

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My yard has become a sanctuary for both birds and squirrels ... it's an enjoyment my wife and I have formed since our dogs and cats passed away over the past several years ... for me especially, this has been therapeutic to care for these animals and provide for them food, water and shelter within the trees and bushes ... we provide the typical seed (peanuts, sunflower are the most) ... I make my own suet (not easy to find the suet fat in grocery stores - so when I do I'll buy 20 pounds at a time) ... anyway, we have had out share of sick birds but most recently we had one that exhibited the west Nile virus symptoms, and n the third day my heart was broken when I found him under the porch dead.  Now, a few days ago, another blue jay appeared to be sick - today is his fifth day here and I am not certain this one has west Nile virus ... for starters he is not puffed out but does seem sick .... I had thought when I did not see him yesterday, he made a full recovery and left ... but about 7pm last night he just appeared from nowhere ... I made sure there was plenty of cold water and shelled/chopped peanuts and sunflower seeds for him to eat ... after a little more than an hour of watching and checking to see if he ate and drank, which he did, he left again.  I think he’s camping in the maple where he’s been eating/drinking.She/he looks slow – meaning unbalanced when eating and moving slowly.  He picks up seed and throws his head back in a motion that depicts pain, not harsh but hurting.  He seems wobbly, but not always.  Today he appeared again, and seemed to shun off any other bids that come to where he’s eating, except one – another blue jay who has lost his head feathers to molting.  This one seems to be watching over the other.  It’s heartbreaking to say the least, but I was hoping someone might have an answer to what could be wrong, and is there anything I can do to help him other than what I am doing?  I’m waiting for the local CDC office to call back.  Although West Nile is not in my town, towns – several away have tested positive.
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Posts: 2,549

#1 [url]

Aug 25 15 10:20 PM

Hello, glad I'm still getting emails about new posts! The only additional advice I could offer is calling a local bird group/rehaber. They would have more resources. Sounds like you're doing great in your efforts. Although I know it is hard to see a bird ill.

Those of us that stayed with this forum after a catastrophic update, have now begun a forum separate from Cornell. The new, more visually appealing forum began almost a year ago. Here's the link.  Please consider joining us. One person there (hazelrunmama) may have some good ideas, as she has cared for sick birds too. You could copy and paste your post here to the other forum.

Best of luck.

Lue, in the high desert mountains of Calamity Creek (a bit south of Alpine), TX
 Thistle socks (3), sunflower seed tube feeder, 1 ground feed area, 2 suet cages and brush pile in winter. Spring, summer and fall there are 3 hummer feeders and the brush pile.

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#2 [url]

Aug 28 15 7:14 PM

Sorry about your blue jays. Corvids (jays and crows) are very susceptible to West Nile, so that could well be what you're seeing.  Have you called your local Health Dept?  They might be equipped to test a dead bird for West Nile, or have resources to send a bird to for testing.

Also, make sure to keep your feeders and feeder area clean.  Wet seed can spoil and develop mold toxins that can make birds sick--or it can act as an incubator for bacterial growth, which birds can then contract.

That being said, though, I don't think there's anything more you can do to help the birds than what you're doing.  If they get sick enough that you can catch one (which would make them very sick, indeed) you can hand it off to a licensed wildlife rehabber, but frankly, once the birds are that sick, they usually don't recover.  They're very good at hiding symptoms until they're on death's door.  :(  So your best bet is to provide nutritious food and clean water, as you're doing, and hope they can kick whatever ails them.  It's so hard to watch, though.   Good luck! 

West central WI in a large tract of county forest with a 20-acre woodland wetland just to the south. 
BOSS, sunflower hearts, nyjer, suet, dried meal worms (all year); nectar and grape jelly (spring thru fall).

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