MIDDLEPORT, Ohio — A free program titled “Art of Bird Watching” is being hosted by the Riverbend Arts Council this Tuesday, Oct. 19.
The event starts at 7 p.m. and will be presented by Jim Fry, retired Columbus Dispatch nature writer and naturalist for the Metro Park System in the Columbus area. The program will focus on Ohio birds. In addition, there will be a “Chinese Auction” and light refreshments.
As reported earlier this summer, many wildlife agencies, including in Ohio and West Virginia, reported investigations of diseased birds. Bird enthusiasts were also asked to pull their bird feeders and stop feeding their feathered friends to potentially slow and stop the issue.
In September, the Ohio Division of Wildlife announced via its website, it was lifting its previous recommendation to stop feeding birds. However, a news released stressed “caution and vigilance are always necessary to help prevent further spread of diseases at bird feeders.”
The news released further stated, “Reports of sick or dead birds possibly affected with the mysterious bird illness in Ohio have slowed considerably. A majority of birds reported with the illness were immature or fledgling birds, and the breeding season is now primarily over.
“There is still no diagnosis on the cause of the mysterious bird illness. Research is ongoing at multiple labs.
“Many other songbird diseases can be passed through feeding. It is important to keep feeders clean: use a 10% bleach solution (1 part bleach, 9 parts water), rinse, and let dry at least once a week. Take a break (7-10 days) from feeding if you see sick or dead birds. This prevents birds from congregating and passing transmissible diseases.”
The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources made a similar statement in late August, announcing, “A West Virginia Division of Natural Resources investigation into diseased birds found in the Eastern Panhandle and surrounding states has concluded that reports of affected birds have continued to decline since July. As a result, the WVDNR is lifting its recommendation to not feed birds in the area, as long as bird feeders are cleaned weekly with soapy water and disinfected with a 10 percent bleach solution. Surrounding states have also lifted recommendations to not feed birds.”
As also noted via its website, the WVDNR stated, “In late May, wildlife managers in Washington, D.C., Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia started receiving reports of sick and dying birds with swollen eyes with a crusty discharge and neurological and behavioral abnormalities. While the cause of the bird mortalities has yet to be determined, the WVDNR continues to collect information and work with other agencies and organizations to monitor and investigate the situation.”
The lifting of the restrictions has been welcome news to many bird lovers.
Tuesday’s free program on Ohio birds, is open to the public and will be held at the Riverbend Arts Council building at 290 N. 2nd Ave., Middleport.
Beth Sergent contributed to this story.