Dead Bird Testing for West Nile virus

Here at Columbia County Mosquito Control, we collect dead birds to submit for West Nile virus testing. If you see a dead bird in Columbia County, please report it to us here at (503) 397 – 2898 with a good location description so we can retrieve it for testing.

Birds, mostly corvids and raptor species are natural reservoirs of West Nile virus and are known to get sick and die from the infection. Mosquitoes can bite these diseased birds, infecting themselves with the virus that is then passed to humans upon a next bloodmeal. In controlling mosquitoes that can successfully vector WNv, we lessen the possibility of humans being bitten since controlling populations of bird species is impractical.

Since birds can die off in random locations, we rely on community reporting of dead birds so that we can identify the disease early on and take appropriate actions to keep the county safe in terms of mosquito populations.

If you find a dead bird, please do the following if possible:

  1. Note the location, address, or Lat & long, so that Mosquito control personnel can collect it.
  2. Is the bird dried out or fresh? Testing is very hard or impossible when a bird has turned to shoe leather, so this is very helpful.
  3. If you have a way to collect it safely in a plastic bag, please do with gloves.
  4. If you do collect a bird safely and want to drop it off at our office, please provide the location or general area so we can report it to the CDC as well as testing.
  5. All we require is a swab of their blood serum for testing, so the birds’ condition or damage is not that important (the bird doesn’t need to be whole).

Our West Nile virus testing is done through Oregon State Veterinary Diagnostic Lab in Corvallis, Oregon and tests are paid for by the Oregon Health Authority via the CDC.

Most common mosquito species that can transmit West Nile virus in Oregon:

  • Culex tarsalis
  • Culex pipiens

These two Culex mosquitoes become most active in the mid-to-late-summer. West Nile is most active in the late summer and early fall. Cx. pipiens prefers very contaminated water with high organic material (dairy ponds, wastewater plants, ponds or containers filled with decomposing plant matter, dirty animal troughs, etc.) as it can withstand lower oxygen concentrations. Whereas, Cx. tarsalis prefers its water a tad cleaner (duck ponds, flooded agricultural fields, containers filled with plant matter but clean, fishponds, animal troughs, etc. ) and likes higher oxygen in the water.

Bird species found in Columbia County and are known to carry west Nile virus:

  • Corvidae / Crows, Jays & Magpies (American Crow, Steller’s Jay, Western Scrub-jay, Pinyon Jay, Blue Jay, Black-billed Magpie, Clark’s Nutcracker, Common Raven)
  • Accipittridae / Hawks, Eagles, & Kites (Red-tailed hawk, Bald eagle, Cooper’s Hawk, Ferruginous Hawk, Golden Eagle, Northern Goshawk, Northern Harrier, Red-shouldered Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Swainson’s Hawk, White-tailed Kite)
  • Strigidae / Owls (Flammulated, Barred, Great Horned, Long-eared, Short-eared, Northern Saw-whet, Spotted, Western Screech Owls)
  • Tytonidae / Barn Owls
  • Falconidae / Falcons & Caracaras (American Kestrel, peregrine Falcon, Gyrfalcon, Merlin)
  • Picidae / Woodpeckers (Acorn, Downey & Hairy woodpeckers,Red-breasted Sapsucker,Northern Flicker)
  • Sittidae / Nuthatches (Red-breasted, white-breasted & Pigmy Nuthatch’s)
  • Trochilidae / Hummingbirds (Anna’s, Black-chinned, Rufous hummingbirds)
  • Paridae / Tits, Chickadees, & Titmice (Black-capped, Chestnut-backed, Mountain Chickadees, Oak Titmouse)
  • Sturnidae / Starlings (European Starlings) ** Invasive
  • Icteridae / Troupials & Allies (Brewer’s & Red-winged Blackbirds, Bullock’s Oriole, Brown-headed Cowbird, Western Meadowlark)
  • Mimidae / Mockingbirds & Thrashers (Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird)
  • Passeridae / Old World ‘True’ Sparrows(House Sparrow)
  • Passerellidae / New World Sparrows (Dark-eyed Junco, Spotted Towhee, Fox, Golden-crowned, Chipping, White-crowned, Song, Savannah Sparrows)
  • Bombycillidae / Waxwings (Cedar Waxwing)
  • Troglodytidae / Wrens (House, Rock & Winter Wrens)
  • Vireonidae / Vireoes (Red-eyed & Warbling Vireos)
  • Anatidae/ Waterfowl (Bufflehead, Cackling & Canada Goose, Tundra Swan, Ruddy & Wood Duck, Mallard,Snow & Emperor Goose, Northern Pintail, Lesser & Greater Scaup, Cinnamon and Green-winged Teal, Canvasback, Common Goldeneye, Common & Hooded Merganser, Greater White-fronted Goose, Eurasian Wigeon).
  • Podicipedidae / Grebes (Pie-billed Grebe, Clark’s Grebe)
  • Rallidae / Rails (American Coot, Sora, Virginia Rail)
  • Cinclidae / Dippers (American Dipper)
  • Alcedinidae / Kingfishers (Belted Kingfisher)
  • Turdidae / Thrushes & Allies (American Robin, Hermit, Swainson’s, & Varied Thrushes, Western & Mountain Bluebirds, Veery)
  • Aegithalidae / Long-tailed Tits (Bushtit)
  • Gruidae / Cranes (Sandhill Crane)
  • Charadriidae / Plovers (Killdeer)
  • Alcidae / Auks & Murres (Common Murre)
  • Pelecanidae / Pelicans (American White Pelican)
  • Hirundinidae / Swallows (Bank, Barn, Cliff, Tree Swallows, Purple Martin)
  • Fringillidae / True Finches (American & Lesser Goldfinch, House, Purple, Evening Grosbeak, Pine Siskin, Red Crossbill)
  • Tyrannidae / Flycatchers (Western Kingbird, Ash-throated, Willow, Hammond’s, Olive-sided & Pacific slope flycatchers, Black Phoebe, Western Kingbird)
  • Odontophoridae / Quails (California & Mountain Quails)
  • Laridae / Gulls & Terns (Glaucous-winged, Herring, California, Ring-billed, Thayer’s Gulls, Caspian Tern)
  • Phasianidae / Grouse (Ruffed & Greater-sage Grouse, Wild turkey, Chukar, ring-necked Pheasant, Domestic Chicken)
  • Columbidae / Pigeons & Doves (Rock Pigeon, Band-tailed Pigeon, Eurasian Collared & Mourning Doves).
  • Caprimulgidae / Nighthawks(Common Nighthawk)
  • Phalacrocorcidae / Cormorants (Pelagic, Double Crested Cormorants)
  • Gaviidae / Loons (Common Loon)
  • Scolopacidae / Sandpipers & Allies (western Sandpiper)
  • Ardeidae / Herons, Egrets, & Bitterns (Black-crowned Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Least Bittern, Green Heron, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret)
  • Threskiornithidae / Ibises & Spoonbills (White-faced Ibis)
  • Cathartidae / New World Vultures (Turkey Vulture)
  • Pandionidae (Osprey)
  • Parulidae / New World Warblers (Northern Waterthrush, Black-throated Grey, Black-throated Blue, Blackpoll, MacGillivray’s, Nashville, Orange-crowned, Yellow-rumped, Tennessee, Townsend’s, Wilson’s, Yellow Warblers, Common Yellowthroat)
  • Cardinalidae / Cardinals & Allies (Western Tanager, Black-headed Grosbeak)

The entire list of birds species according to the CDC that can Transmit WNv in the United States: