West Nile virus, a potentially serious sickness, is transmitted to humans through bites from mosquitos infected with the virus. Local health officials track the presence and location of virus-carrying mosquitos primarily through trapping and testing mosquitos but also by mapping the incidence of dead birds, primarily, but not exclusively, crows, scrub jays, and magpies. Together these tracking methods enable health officials to target programs to prevent the spread of the disease.
If you find a sick or dead bird you can report it to health officials by calling (877) 968-2473. You will be informed how to safely handle the bird and asked to provide the bird’s location so that it may be picked up and tested or, in some instances, disposed of. You can also report online by going to http://westnile.ca.gov/report_wnv.php.
If you find a recently deceased bird (a known window strike, for example), place the bird in the freezer. Contact the Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology at UC Davis to donate the specimen. They will want details, including your name, the date and location where the bird was found.
There is a helpful citizen exemption to the migratory bird act to allow possession if the bird is donated to a museum. Many important specimens have been recieved this way.Andy Engilis, Jr., Curator, Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology