Dead Bird Surveillance

West Nile Virus (WNV) can infect any bird; however, corvid birds (such as crows, jays, magpies, and ravens) are susceptible to WNV infection and typically suffer a high death rate throughout the United States. For 2014, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) in Columbia will evaluate dead American crows, fish crows, blue jays, house finches, and house sparrows from March 15 - November 30 to determine when and where WNV may occur throughout South Carolina. Note:  please review the DHEC link describing these birds (Submittal of Dead Birds). If WNV is detected in submitted birds (as well as in mosquitoes, horses, or humans) from any location throughout Beaufort County, an increased risk exists to spread this pathogen from mosquitoes to residents and visitors. After confirmation, we will intensify surveillance and the strategic application of public health insecticides at and near this location. DHEC will consider processing a dead bird if: 

  • bird is "freshly dead" (within 24 hours)
  • bird is intact (with no physical trauma such as those killed by a vehicle or injured by other animals)
  • no maggots (fly larvae) are present
  • body is not stiff
  • sunken eyes do not exist
  • appears dead by natural causes.

All blackbirds are not American crows. In Beaufort County, American crows reside with at least 7 other blackbirds. For clarification, the following website links* provide identification tips, photographs, songs, videos, maps, and life history information for the American crow (and similar blackbirds) as well as the blue jay, house finch, and house sparrow:

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The public is encouraged to help with the deteciton of WNV in wild birds throughout Beaufort County. If you discover a dead American crow, fish crow, blue jay, house finch, or house sparrow, do not handle the body with your bare hands. Please refer to the DHEC website (Submittal of Dead Birds) for instructions.

* Source: Gough, G.A., Sauer, J.R., Iliff, M. Patuxent Bird Identification Infocenter. 1998. Version 97.1. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD. (Bird ID)