I live in coastal Georgia.  This winter/spring I have had several cardinals die in my yard of an unknown cause.  I don't use any chemicals on my yard.  It has been a wet winter/spring.  In the days before their death I observe them as being larger than normal.  Almost like they're bloated.  They are lethargic, sluggish, and don't flit around like cardinals do.  I can get very close to them before they fly off.  When they fly, they are low to the ground and have a difficult time even getting to the lowest tree branch.  They do still eat black oil sunflower I put out although it's usually from the ground and not a feeder.  Any ideas as to what is wrong?

The cardinals seem bloated only because they are fluffing their feathers up to keep warm. This is a common symptom of a sick bird. They fluff up when they are cold, of course, but if they stay fluffed up and are lethargic, something is wrong. They could have been poisoned by chemicals elsewhere or they could have a disease. I can't diagnose the exact problem from your description; you would have to bring the birds to a vet or a wildlife lab for tests. You might want to contact your county health department as they might want to test them for West Nile Virus.  


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Roger Lederer


Any and all about WILD birds - the science of ornithology. Information about birdwatching, ecology, conservation, migration, behavior, banding, rehabilitation, feeding, songs, binoculars, identification, and careers in ornithology. No questions about pet or caged birds, please.


Have a PhD and over forty years as a professional ornithologist - research, teaching, author, speaker, webmaster of . Have written thirty scientific papers, three bird field guides, a textbook in ecology four other bird books, the latest being "Beaks, Bones, and Bird Songs". Have traveled to 100 countries watching birds and have spoken to hundreds of groups about birds.

PhD in Zoology/Ornithology; Emeritus Professor of Biological Sciences; former Dean of the College of Natural Sciences at California State University, Chico

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