MARS inundated with sick siskins

Scott stanfield

Record staff

The Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society (MARS) has been dealing with an unusually large number of sick birds — specifically pine siskins — in recent weeks.

One person from Campbell River found 18 dead birds in her yard.

“Turns out they were all siskins,” MARS executive director Allison Morrison said. “We are getting a lot of calls from people wondering why they’ve got these sick birds hanging around in yards that can’t fly. We’re getting almost one a day right now. We haven’t saved one. They just don’t survive.”

The birds have been dying of salmonella, a preventable condition spread through bird feeders that haven’t been cleaned.

The society suggests cleaning feeders once a week and rinsing them with a 10 per cent bleach solution. Bleach is especially important because it’s the only way to kill the salmonella.

The other option is to temporarily stop feeding birds.

“Either one is reasonable,” Morrison said, noting there is plenty of food around for song birds.

“We’re really busy now. Getting a lot of eagles in — a lot of birds this time of year. Usually we’re a lot slower.”

The society operates a wildlife rehabilitation centre, which has reached capacity. It is in the process of fundraising for a new hospital and visitor centre.


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