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Mysterious Illness Affects Songbirds, What We Can Do About It

A healthy American Robin
Dakota Lynch
Wikimedia Commons
American Robin, one of the species of birds affected by the new illness
Image of a blue jay with an eye crusted shut, affected by the new illness affecting some birds in the Eastern US.
Kelly Chandler
A blue jay affected by the new illness affecting some birds in the Eastern US.

Some birds in the Eastern United States have been dying of a new disease with strange symptoms, including crusty, swollen eyes.
Most of the affected birds so far are in the mid-Atlantic, but scientists and wildlife enthusiasts are concerned this disease could show up in Connecticut. This hour, we find out more about this mysterious illness and what you can do about it.

And later, we get an update on the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. An interpretation change by the Trump administration weakened the government’s ability to punish corporations that harm birds; we learn what’s happening now under the Biden Administration.

If you observe a bird in distress, you should contact a wildlife rehabilitator in your area. List of rehabilitators from Connecticut DEEP here.

If you find a dead bird in Connecticut, you can report it to the Wild Bird Mortality Database.


  • Brian Hess - Wildlife Biologist at the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
  • Margaret Rubega - Connecticut state ornithologist and professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at UConn
  • Juliet Eilperin - Senior national affairs correspondent for the Washington Post

Cat Pastor contributed to this show.

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Carmen Baskauf was a producer for Connecticut Public Radio's news-talk show Where We Live, hosted by Lucy Nalpathanchil from 2017-2021. She has also contributed to The Colin McEnroe Show.
Lucy leads Connecticut Public's strategies to deeply connect and build collaborations with community-focused organizations across the state.