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Bird feeders back up in some Indiana counties

By Jack Spaulding
I think it will take a while for my backyard feathered friends to realize our bird feeder is back up and suet and sunflower seeds are once again available. They have gone without for almost two months following the request of the IDNR to stop feeding the birds to help control a songbird disease. Most Hoosiers are allowed to go back to feeding birds, but some are still restricted.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources announced on Aug. 9 that Hoosiers in 76 counties can resume feeding birds but asked residents of the remaining counties keep their feeders down while the investigation into what is killing songbirds continues.
The IDNR recommended a statewide moratorium on bird feeding on June 25 to slow the spread of a still-undetermined illness sickening and killing birds across the state. Hoosiers answered the call; removing feeders, cleaning birdbaths and submitting more than 3,400 reports of sick or dead birds. DNR biologists believe there to be more than 500 cases in 72 counties involving a very specific set of clinical signs (crusty eyes, eye discharge and/or neurological issues).
Based on the data, it appears the bird illness is consistently affecting specific areas. There is no imminent threat to people, the population of specific bird species, or to the overall population of birds in Indiana.
The IDNR recommended residents of the following counties continue to refrain from feeding birds: Allen, Carroll, Clark, Floyd, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Johnson, Lake, Marion, Monroe, Morgan, Porter, St. Joseph, Tippecanoe, and Whitley.
Residents of other Indiana counties may put out their feeders. Seed and suet feeders should be cleaned at least once every two weeks by scrubbing feeders with soap and water, followed by a short soak in a 10 percent bleach solution. Feeders should be thoroughly rinsed and dried before being filled with birdseed. Hummingbird feeders should be cleaned at least one a week with a 10 percent bleach solution and rinsed thoroughly.
The USGS National Wildlife Health Center’s avian disease experts are working to determine the cause of the disease outbreak. Indiana will continue to support the effort by providing samples to the laboratory.
If you see a sick or dead bird with the above symptoms, report it at Reports help DNR staff continue to track the outbreak.  For updates, visit
Upcoming hikes At Monroe Lake
Most visitors to Monroe Lake are familiar with Paynetown, Fairfax and its other recreation areas. However, not nearly as many folks have visited one of the property’s hidden gems, the Stillwater-Northfork wildlife management area.
Two guided hikes feature the lesser-known part of Monroe Lake on Sept. 26. Attendees will learn about how resource management activities in SWNF support a broad range of animal populations, offer responsible access to hunters and create opportunities for hikers, birdwatchers and photographers.
Both hikes are about two hours in length. They are recommended for adult audiences and limited to 20 people per hike. Registration is free but required by Sept. 24.
The Stillwater Marsh Hike at 10 a.m. journeys along a levee wall, which is flooded each October to create a seasonal winter wetland. The naturalist will discuss how the marsh is created each year, the crops planted for wildlife food, the types of trees, plants and animals living here, and how management activities create “roll-over” benefits for non-targeted species. Sign up at
The Northfork Fields Hike at 1 p.m. winds through managed fields and permanent ponds. In addition to a closer look at levee system, attendees will learn how the area is managed to support mourning doves, ducks and other species, through management activities like crop plantings, pond management and the cultivation of open woodlands. Sign up at
Questions about the hikes should be directed to Jill Vance, Monroe Lake’s interpretive naturalist, at or 812-837-9967.
Volunteers needed to prep duck blinds
Volunteers are invited to help clean, repair and cut brush to camouflage the blinds in the Stillwater-Northfork Wildlife Area of Monroe Lake in preparation for the upcoming waterfowl hunting season. The workday takes place Oct. 2 and begins at 9 a.m. Volunteers are welcome to stay for just a couple hours or as late as 4 p.m.
Advance registration is requested at by noon on Oct. 1, but last-minute volunteers are welcome to just show up on the 2nd at the Northfork Check Station.
The Northfork Check Station is located east of Bloomington, off of State Road 46, about 1/3 mile south of Kent and McGowan roads. For more detailed directions, you can call the Monroe Lake office at 812-837-9546.
Volunteers should dress for the weather and bring work gloves, hand tools useful for cutting brush and a water bottle. If you plan to stay into the afternoon, bring a sack lunch. Youth under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
Questions about the volunteer workday should be directed to Jill Vance, Monroe Lake’s interpretive naturalist, at or 812-837-9967.
Trail system needs volunteers
Monroe Lake is expanding and improving the trail system at Fairfax State Recreation Area and needs volunteers to help clear and trim vegetation, move logs and brush to define the path, and place benches.
A trails workday is scheduled for Oct. 17 at 1 p.m. Volunteers need to register by Oct. 15 at Volunteers must be at least 12 years of age and children under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
Work gloves will be available to borrow. Volunteers should bring loppers/shears if they have them, and a water bottle.
Questions about the volunteer workday should be directed to Jill Vance, Monroe Lake’s interpretive naturalist, at or 812-837-9967.
Readers can contact the author by writing to this publication, or e-mail to
Spaulding’s books, “The Best of Spaulding Outdoors,” and his latest, “The Coon Hunter And The Kid,” are available from