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See below for pictures of birds that can be tested for WNV by the State lab.



I found a dead bird -- now what do I do?


Wild birds die for a variety of reasons and most wild bird deaths have no impact on human health.


    1)  Natural death -- naturally short life spans, severe weather, predators, competition between species.

    2)  Accidental -- impacts with power lines, windows or buildings, vehicle collisions, aircraft strikes.

    3)  Toxicants -- 

            a)  Legal pest control -- three EPA/OISC registered pesticides are used to manage pest pigeon, starling, or house sparrow problems in Indiana.  The   legal application of these products presents no threat to human health and safety.

            b)  Illegal or accidental pesticide exposure -- sometimes people apply other pesticides (insecticides, herbicides, etc.) incorrectly or the birds enter a recently treated area before the designated safe re-entry time has passed.

            c)  Environmental contamination -- chemical or other contaminate spills, leaks, or releases

            d)  Spoiled grain crop residues -- crop residues are a primary food source for many of our wild birds.  Bacteria, fungi, and molds can grow on crop residues left in the field and some of these organisms can cause mortality.

            e)  Dirty bird feeders -- the same organisms found in spoiled crops residues can be found in backyard feeders if they are not kept clean.

    4)  Disease -- most wild bird diseases present no threat to human health.  However, there are two wild bird-related diseases about which Hoosiers are most worried.

            a)  WEST NILE VIRUS -- The Indiana State Department of Health will test blue jays, crows, and raptors (falcons, hawks, and owls) during mosquito season (May 15 - October 1).  Please call the Health Department at 738-3237 if you find a dead bird -- we will come pick it up for testing if it is one of the appropriate species.  and we will map the location it was found if it is not one of the appropriate species.  We have been mapping dead bird locations since August, 2002 and will continue to do so.

            b)  HIGHLY PATHOGENIC ASIAN H5N1 (HPAI) -- commonly know as Avian Influenza or bird flu, is a disease that concerns many people.  Avian Influenza (AI) occurs in North America naturally in a form that does not infect humans (Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza, or LPAI).  The disease that has affected humans in other countries, HPAI, is not currently found in North America.  In the worldwide wild bird population, AI is most often found in waterbirds, such as waterfowl (geese, ducks, swans) and shorebirds (sandpiper-type birds).  However, there are no documented cases of the disease ever being transmitted to humans from wild birds.  However, if you find any dead migratory geese, ducks, swans, or shorebirds, DO NOT TOUCH OR PICK THE BIRDS UP FOR TESTING.  Please call the Wildlife Conflicts Information Hotline at 1-800-893-4116 to report the location and number of dead waterfowl.  Indiana Department of Natural Resources and Wildlife Services professionals staff will determine if testing is necessary.


Dead birds should not be handled with bare hands.  If you need to dispose of a dead bird, use gloves or a plastic bag turned inside out over your hand to pick up the bird, double bag it, and either bury it or dispose of it in the trash.      





How To Identify Birds that The Indiana State Department of Health is Testing for West Nile Virus



Blue Jay

Cyanocitta cristata

  • Length: 11"

  • Wingspan: 16"

  • Weight: 3 ounces

  • Black sturdy bill

  • Blue crest and upper parts

  • Black eyeline and breastband

  • Bright blue wings with black bars and white patches

  • Long blue tail with black bars and white corners








                        Hawk (a raptor) 

                        various Buteo species


                        Identification Tips:

  • Length: 12" to 18"

  • Wingspan: 30" to 38"

  • Short, dark, hooked beak

  • Broad wings, broad tail








        Owl (a raptor) 

        Various species


        Identification Tips:

  • Different species range from small to large

  • Round face

  • Large eyes

  • Short, hooked beak








American Crow

Corvus brachyrhynchos


Identification Tips:

  • Length: 16 - 18"

  • Wingspan: 39"

  • Weight: 1 pound

  • Entirely black plumage

  • Squared-off tail

  • Short tail, broad wings

  • Very common in urban and agricultural areas




The CROW is the only black bird the State lab is collecting.  DO NOT CONFUSE CROWS WITH STARLINGS, GRACKLES, OR RAVENS!  See comparisons below: