Ohio songbirds affected by disease


Citizens can help with turkey and grouse brood survey

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Recently, it has been observed that songbirds in Ohio are being affected by a disease. The primary species affected at this time are blue jays, common grackles, European starlings, American robins, and house sparrows.

While there is currently not an update on what is currently causing the disease, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife advises that people take down and clean bird feeders and birdbaths with 10% bleach solution, particularly if they are seeing sick/dead birds in their area.

If an alive/ diseased bird is found, please contact the nearest licensed wildlife rehabilitator. A PDF showing 2020-2021 permitted wildlife rehabilitators can be found at www.ohiodnr.gov/static/documents/wildlife/permits/Ohio%20DOW%20Wildlife%20Rehabilitators.pdf.

If a dead/ diseased bird is found, please submit a report online in the Wildlife Species Sighting reporting system to help biologists track the spread of the disease. When reporting at www.apps.ohiodnr.gov/wildlife/speciessighting/, select Bird – Diseased or Dead.

Photographs or videos can be submitted with a report, as well as latitude and longitude coordinates to help wildlife biologists quickly verify the sighting. Remember to always view wildlife from a respectful distance for personal safety as well as the safety of the animal.

In other news from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, citizen scientists can participate in surveying Ohio’s wild turkey and ruffed grouse populations by reporting sightings in July and August.

Every summer, the Division of Wildlife conducts a turkey and grouse brood survey to estimate population growth. The brood survey relies on the public to report observations of all wild turkeys and ruffed grouse seen during July and August. Observations may be submitted at the Wildlife Reporting System webpage at wildohio.gov as well as the HuntFish OH mobile app.

Information collected for wild turkeys includes the number of gobblers, hens, and young turkeys (poults) observed. Information collected for ruffed grouse include the number of adults and young observed. The date and the county where the observation occurred are recorded for both species. Biologists began tracking summer observations of wild turkeys in 1962. Ruffed grouse were added to the survey in 1999.

This survey is conducted by state wildlife agencies across the wild turkey’s range, which includes Ohio. Information submitted to Ohio’s brood survey helps to predict future population changes and guide wild turkey management. In 2020, the public submitted 248 valid reports, with a statewide average of 2.7 poults per hen. The 10-year average is 2.6 poults per hen.

A true conservation success story, wild turkeys had disappeared from Ohio by 1904. Reintroductions began in 1956, and today turkeys are again common throughout much of Ohio. The gobbling of males is unmistakable, but the birds also make a variety of clucks and other sounds. Watch for turkeys in fields along woods, especially early in the morning. A few turkey hotspots include Hocking Hills, Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area, and Woodbury Wildlife Area.

Ruffed grouse inhabit Ohio’s mostly forested regions. Grouse occur in greatest numbers in habitat with young, regenerating forests, especially those less than 20 years old. Habitat loss has driven population declines since the 1980s. In addition, susceptibility to West Nile Virus has likely caused further population declines during the past 20 years. The drumming of a male grouse – which sounds similar to an old lawn mower being started – is made by the bird quickly rotating its wings, creating a vacuum that produces a repetitive, loud booming noise. For more information, visit the Wildlife Species Guide page at wildohio.gov.

The mission of the Division of Wildlife is to conserve and improve fish and wildlife resources and their habitats for sustainable use and appreciation by all. Visit wildohio.gov to find out more.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.

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Citizens can help with turkey and grouse brood survey

Submitted article