Reporting Dead Birds in South Carolina

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:

  1. Dead birds should not be handled with bare hands.  Maintain a physical barrier.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 
  4. 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.
  5. 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):
    • To report sick or dead poultry, call Clemson University Livestock Poultry Health Division at 803-788-2260 or fill out this Online Report Form  
  • Wild Waterfowl, Shorebirds, Songbirds: (5 or more dead in one place)
    • South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SC DNR):  803-734-3886
  • Eagles:
    • SC DNR - Will Dillman:  803-734-3938
  • 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 Will Dillman:  803-734-3938
Blue Jays, Crows, House Sparrows, House Finches (West Nile Virus surveillance) Injured or Sick Birds:
  • Poultry: The owner should contact their veterinarian.
  • Wild Birds: Contact the SC DNR for information on local wildlife rehabilitators.