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I have lost approximately 6 redpolls over the last several weeks, and while I am not 100% sure, I believe the culprit is Somanila. Apparently this time of the year, with thawing and a sun with more warmth, can cause Somanila in the old seed underneath feeders. The redpolls can pick this up on their feet, and transfer it to other birds at the feeder. This is a first for my feeders, but can apparently happen easily at this time of the year. If you are in an area with other feeders, the birds may be picking it up at other feeders.
Solutions: move your feeders so that the birds are not ontop of old seed underneath them, clean out your feeders with hot soapy water or bleach, and clean up the old seed on the ground. Or a short term solution is to throw fresh snow to cover up the old seed.
Thanks for the report and avoidance tips, Susanne. Where are you finding the birds that died? Are they just found dead on the ground around your feeder or dying near your feeder or what?
I've never heard of Somanila. I was going to see if I could find something about it on the Internet and put a link here, but couldn't find it. You don't mean Salmonella, do you? I know that's a disease that people can get from various sources (including fowl).
Aside: I heard my first cardinal singing near our house yesterday. Spring must be getting close.
They were seen acting sick (puffed up, not flying away with the flock)
around the feeder and usually would be found dead within 24 hours of being
seen sick. They were still eating even when they were noticeably sick.
But once they tucked their cute little heads that was it for them.