The lead agency for reporting and collection of dead birds is the Benton-Franklin Health Department. Below you will find information and instructions related to dead birds.

Bird Reporting

If you find a dead bird:

  • If you find a dead crow, raven, magpie, jay, or raptor and the bird is fresh and undamaged, please report it for possible West Nile virus testing. Report birds found in Benton and Franklin Counties by calling the Benton-Franklin Health District at (509) 460-HAWK [4295].
  • Dead chickens and other domestic poultry should be reported to the Washington State Department of Agriculture (1-800-606-3056).
  • Dead wild birds should be reported to the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (1-800-606-8767).
  • Only some crows, ravens, magpies, jays or raptors will be selected for West Nile virus testing. If the bird is not eligible for testing, you may dispose of it in your outside garbage.
  • Do not handle dead birds with your bare hands. Instead, use gloves, a shovel, or a plastic bag placed over your hand to pick up the bird. Double-wrap the bird in two plastic bags before placing in your garbage. Be sure to wash your hands, even if you were careful to not touch the bird.

Why are only certain birds used for West Nile virus surveillance?

Raptors and birds in the Corvidae family (such as crows, ravens, magpies and jays) are used for surveillance because they commonly become sick or die when they get the West Nile virus. Birds that are eligible for testing may be collected to be sent to a lab in Pullman, Washington.

Submitting reminders:

  • The cause of death must be from natural causes. There can be no obvious signs of death (hit by a car, killed by a cat, bullet hole, etc.).
  • The bird must be freshly dead--less than 24 hours-- intact (not scavenged), and free of excessive heat damage to be tested. If the carcass has an odor, is soft and mushy, has skin discoloration, feathers or skin that easily rubs off, sunken eyes, or has maggots present, it is too decomposed for testing.
  • Since the cause of death is unknown, it is always best to avoid direct contact with the bird.
  • The Benton-Franklin Health District is not available on the weekends to collect dead birds. If you find a dead bird on the weekend, please make note of the approximate time of death and location of the bird and call the information in on Monday morning, report it with the Online Bird Reporting Form, or call the after-hours Bird Reporting Line at (509) 460-HAWK [4295]