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What should I do if I find a dead bird?

Nature Canada / What we do / Bird Conservation / What should I do if I find a dead bird?

What should I report to my Government Wildlife Agency?

  1. Groups of three or more dead birds (any species) found in the same geographic location.
  2. The following kinds of individual dead birds:
  • Species at risk
  • Highly susceptible species, such as swans and ducks
  • Raptors (for example, eagles, hawks and owls)
  • Water-adapted bird species, including waterfowl in general, shorebirds and water-associated birds

These wild bird mortalities should be reported by calling the National Avian Influenza Survey information line.  Reports will be recorded and assessed to determine if further investigation is warranted.  If it is, guidance will be provided on a case-by-case basis.

The Canadian Wildlife Service also tracks mortalities of migratory birds. They do not track all cases, but here is what they do want to know information about:

  • If there is suspicion that the Migratory Birds Convention Act was violated then they can contact their local conservation enforcement officer or contact the CWS regional office.
  • If they think they should be tested for disease or cause of death then they can contact the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative.
  • If this is a mortality event with many dead birds encountered such as disease outbreak or pollution event or unknown reason then contact your regional CWS office or email enviroinfo.ec@canada.ca. There is also a number you can call:1-800-668-6767.

What should I report to my Regional Health Authority?

Individual dead corvids, such as crows, jays, ravens and magpies, should be reported directly to your Regional Health Authority for West Nile Virus surveillance.

What precautions should I take when collecting birds for submission?

All birds must be in good diagnostic condition (i.e., there must be limited decomposition and scavenging).

Dead birds must be handled using common sense sanitary precautions to reduce risks to human health.  It is best to use a shovel.  If a shovel is not available, use disposable gloves or inverted plastic bags, and then wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds to remove debris.  Avoid contact with feces, blood, body fluids and sharp parts of the bird.

Carcasses should be stored in double plastic bags.  They should be clearly labeled with a tag indicating the date of death, the location where the bird was found and the species.  Carcasses should be kept cool until further instructions are provided by the investigating Wildlife Agency representative.

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