Clemson University Livestock Poultry Health Department
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control
Normal Bird Mortality:
- An occasional dead bird is a normal, natural occurrence in either wild or domesticated flocks.
- Trauma is the most common cause of mortality in wild birds and some flocking birds can be killed in surprising numbers by certain types of trauma.
- Normally, the finding of fewer than 5 dead birds in one location that are not sentinel species (such as blue jays and crows) or raptors does not warrant an investigation.
- A single dead bird will be tested only if it is a species of special interest (such as Blue Jays, American or Fish Crows, eagles, raptors).
Collecting, Removing, and Storing Dead Birds:
- Dead birds should not be handled with bare hands. Maintain a physical barrier.
- To collect or remove dead birds from the environment:
- Pick up the bird with doubled plastic bags that have been turned inside out.
- Then, invert and seal the doubled plastic bag with the bird inside.
- To dispose of the bird:
- Place the bag in household garbage.
- As an alternative, bury the dead bird (without being bagged) by handling the bird with a shovel.
- To store a dead bird prior to delivery for testing:
- Bag and place the bird on ice or keep it cool until the bird can be refrigerated
- Use clear plastic bags if possible so that the bird can be seen through the bags.
- Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water.
For questions about dead birds, SC citizens may contact the following agencies:
- Domesticated Poultry (chickens, turkeys, quail, pheasants, ducks, geese):
- Clemson University Livestock Poultry Health Division: 803-788-2260.
- Wild Waterfowl, Shorebirds, Songbirds: (5 or more dead in one place)
- South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SC DNR): 800-922-5431
- SC DNR - Derrell Shipes: 803-734-3938
Blue Jays, Crows, House Sparrows, House Finches (West Nile Virus surveillance)
Injured or Sick Birds:
- Raptor Die-offs (hawks, falcons, vultures, owls, and osprey):
- SC DNR requests that raptors be submitted only if unusual die-offs occur. If an unusual number of dead raptors start appearing, call Derrell Shipes: 803-734-3938
- Poultry: The owner should contact their veterinarian.
- Wild Birds: Contact the SC DNR for information on local wildlife rehabilitators.