We have had more than one call from people who are finding dead Redpolls near their feeders. I’ve done some emailing and calling around to see if the experts know anything definitive.
Redpolls are known as an “irruptive” species, which means we don’t see them every year; they irrupt onto the scene every couple of years. This is one of those years. While people are enjoying seeing this friendly, colorful little bird, sadly, they are also seeing many deaths.
A certain amount of mortality is to be expected over the winter, however people are seeing as many as 8 at a time under their feeders. I wrote to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to see if there is a known cause. Here is their reply:
To this point I have been relaying our best practices for keeping the feeders sanitized (take down, sanitize, let sit for a few days before putting them back up), and also that, because of the abundance of the species at feeders this year, the chance of diseases common in the species, such as Salmonellosis, naturally increases:
Beyond that, I am not sure where we are on this issue. I have copied the folks at FeederWatch to see if they can add anything—I am not aware of any information about current pathogens, but when researching the issue I did find this info from 2005—so it is not the first time…
I hope this helps—please keep in touch if you discover anything!
If I hear anything else, I’ll post it here! Thank you for your concern for our feathered friends.
~ Jennifer Schlick, Program Director