CHARLESTON, WV (WVNS) — The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) is advising that all bird feeders and suet feeders be discontinued until further notice.

According to Three Rivers Avian Center, the announcement is due to the rapid spread of an unidentified virus affecting wild birds across the state. Three Rivers says the bird being hardest hit by the virus are; starlings, blue jays, robins, grackles, and brown-headed cowbirds. Symptoms being seen include swollen eyes, breathing issues, weakness, and blood coming from the mouth, with death following soon after.

While researchers try to find an explanation for the virus, Three Rivers Avian Center has some tips for those curious about their own feeders.

  • Cease feeding birds until this wildlife mortality event has concluded
  • Clean feeders and bird baths with a ten percent bleach solution
  • Avoid unnecessary handling of birds and wear disposable gloves if handling occurs
  • Keep pets away from sick or dead birds as a standard precaution.

The Center says hummingbird feeders are still okay to leave out, but to make sure they are cleaned regularly and have fresh sugar water.

If you see sick or dead bird on your property, call your local WVDNR or State wildlife agency district office for more information and instructions.