NCW People are being asked to take down their bird feeders to help protect wild birds from salmonellosis.

Salmonellosis is a common and usually fatal bird disease that can be caused when birds flock in large numbers at feeders, transmitting the disease through dropping and saliva, according to a state Department of Fish and Wildlife news release.

The problem started in Western Washington counties, including King, Kitsap, Skagit, Snohomish and Thurston, have seen large die-offs of finches and other songbirds, said Staci Lehman, state Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesperson on Monday. But it has since expanded to the entire Pacific Northwest.

Salmonellosis is caused by bacteria belonging to the genus salmonella. The spread of the disease is worse this year because Washington is experiencing an irruption, where an abnormally large number of finches and other birds from Canada move south for the winter.

People should discontinue the use of backyard feeders through March to encourage birds to disperse and forage naturally, Lehman said If homeowners don’t discontinue using feeders, they are encouraged to clean them daily.

Homeowners should first rinse the feeder with warm soapy water, then dunk it in a nine-to-one bleach solution. Cleaning the ground beneath the feeder by raking up feces and seed casings is also recommended.

If people find dead birds they should handle them with care,as in rare cases salmonella can pass from birds to humans, according to the news release. Those who find dead birds should wear gloves and wash their hands once disposing of them.

People are asked to report any dead birds they find. Reporting can be done at