Was it just mine, or did everyone's mom tell them to never touch a wild bird, living or dead, because they're crawling with germs, bugs, and assorted yucky-ness? Well, it turns out my mom (and maybe yours) had this one right (not that I listened).

No less and authority than MedicalNewsToday.com says that birds may carry up to 60 different diseases, including salmonella, and that's just in their droppings. I'm going to start thinking of my car's windshield as a portable petri dish.

Droppings aside, birds also carry other little nasties on them that can give you some health problems, too. MassAudubon.com's partial list features things like bed bugs, chicken mites, yellow meal worms, and of course, West Nile Virus.

The reason I'm bringing these little facts up is because the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are now looking into a multi-state (not Illinois as of yet) salmonella outbreak that they believe may be linked to wild songbirds and bird feeders.

In case you hadn't been paying attention (and why in the world would you), sales of birdfeeders and bird food having been off the charts since the beginning of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. PennLive.com reports sales are up to and sometimes over 50 percent more than in previous non-pandemic years, as more and more Americans have taken up bird-watching as a hobby.


The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Macaulay Library, the world’s largest digital collection of animal sounds, also has experienced a pandemic boom. From March 1 through May 31 birders submitted more than 100,000 audio recordings of bird songs to the archive, which took more than 70 years to gather its first 100,000.

Back to the multi-state salmonella problem. The CDC is investigating the eight-state breakout, which at this point has infected 19 people and caused 8 more to be hospitalized, but caused no deaths. The CDC says the cause could be birdfeeders, birdbaths, or contact with wild birds.

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