Since West Nile Virus (WNV) arrived in Illinois at the end of
the Summer of 2001, dead birds have been important
sentinels for early WNV activity.

Dead birds will be accepted for testing from May 1,
2010 through October 15, 2010.

The Marion County Health Department is only allowed
to submit 10 dead birds for testing.
Citizens can drop off
a dead bird at the Marion County Health Department office
or the Environmental Health Division Staff can pick up the
dead bird.

The Health Department only accepts birds Monday
through Thursday only.
The Health Department has to
ship overnight to University of Illinois Lab in Champaign-
Urbana. The lab is closed on Saturdays and Sundays.

“Eligible” Birds for West Nile Virus Testing, 2010:
West Nile Virus

Food Safety
Hand Washing
Power Outage
Safe Food Temp

Aerobic System
Holding Tank
Sand Filters:
Seepage System
Waste Stabilation
Pond / Lagoon

Body Art
Lead Poisoning Act
Lyme Disease
West Nile Virus
Above: Crow       Below: Blue Jay
Perching Birds

First Priority
Crow, Blue Jay
Second Priority
House, Finch, House
Sparrow, Robin
Other Suitable
"Perching Birds"
Blackbird, Bluebird, Catbird,
Cardinal, Chickadee,
Cowbird, Creeper,
Goldfinch, Grackle, Finch,
Flycatcher, Lark,
Mockingbird, Nuthatch,
Oriole, Purple Martin,
Sparrows (Many species),
Starling, Swallow, Tanager,
Thrush, Warblers (many
species), Cedar Waxwing,
Wren and other
"Eligible Birds"
Mourning Dove, Woodpecker, Pigeon (if found
Hawks, Owls (must have IDPH advanced
NOT Suitable
Chicken, Gulls, Waterfowl, Large Birds
(Turkey, Vulture, etc.
Crows can be confused with other birds with black feathers such as starlings, grackles,
blackbirds and cowbirds. But adult crows are larger, about 17 to 21 inches in length, while
juvenile crows are about 10 inches in length. Adult crows are all black including feathers, beak,
legs and feet. Juvenile crows have brownish-black feathers. A crow’s nostrils are covered with
hair-like bristles.

Starlings are robin-sized birds with iridescent black, spotted feathers and yellow beaks. They
have very short tails, about 1/3 the length of the rest of the body.

Grackles are 11 inches to 13 inches long, also black, smaller than crows but larger than robins.
The head of a grackle has a purple or green iridescent sheen. The rest of the body is black or
brown-black. The eyes are yellow. They can be distinguished from crows because their tails are
V-shaped and tail feathers are nearly as long as the body.

Bird images and descriptions for crows, blue jays and birds that may be confused with them can
be found on the
IDPH web site.   An image of an immature crow may be found here.

Birds submitted for testing should be
“eligible” birds with no obvious cause of death, such
as birds killed by a gunshot or birds found crushed on a roadway that are most likely killed by
motor vehicles.

Note: Birds dying from WNV are usually found singly, scattered over a wide area. In contrast,
birds that die from other causes (storm mortality, food poisoning, toxicants) often die in groups
or clusters in a small area.

Submitted birds should be believed dead less than 48 hours – they should be put on chill packs
or refrigerated ASAP. Birds should only be submitted if they have not been damaged by
scavenging animals and are not decomposed. Decomposed animals can be recognized as
having a strong odor, eyes deflated or dried, maggots present, or bloated from decomposition
gases – those specimens should be discarded.

Birds shipped for testing must be submitted through or authorized by the certified local health
department. Organizations that collect dead birds, such as street department employees, animal
control employees, employees of health departments not certified by IDPH, etc. should submit
dead birds through, or be authorized by, their certified local health department.
*Crows and blue jays
are very susceptible to
Submission of Dead Birds for West Nile Virus Surveillance, 2010