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(NECN: Amy Sinclair) - Wildlife biologists in Maine have noted an alarming trend this spring. A large number of birds, especially finches are turning up sick or dead in people's yards. Bird lovers always look forward to the spring migration, when feathered friends make their return trip to the bird feeders and nesting boxes Eric Hynes/Maine Audubon Naturalist: "Everyday you wake up get outside and hear a new bird song. Everyday it's a new bird" But this April, Maine Audubon is getting flooded with calls from concerned birders, who are reporting problems especially with Gold Finches and Pine Siskens. Hynes: "They're telling me they're seeing birds that are panting, lethargic not flying off when the rest of them do." Often, Mainers are finding dead Finches right at the base of their feeding stations. While the state hasn't tested the birds yet, biologists all suspect the same disease. Salmonella that starts to spread when the snow melts and the weather warms up. They say all the spent seed debris that accumulates under feeders can be a haven for bacteria once the temperature rises. Hynes: "A lot of birds will pick up seeds on the ground where they defecated and ingest it. That's how it spreads from one to the other." At Wild Bird Supply in Freeport, they say the best way to prevent the spread of salmonella is to keep things clean. Derek Lovitch/Wild Bird Supply Owner: "You can get a shell free mix." But Lovitch says if you suspect disease is already present, the feeders must come down to prevent spreading disease to other birds and household pets. . Lovitch: "What I do if I see mold or sick birds, we need to sterilize feeders with one part bleach to 10 parts water that's enough to clean it." After that, Lovitch recommends keeping feeders out of service for a few days until any potentially diseased birds move on. Then commit to keeping things tidy. Lovitch says you wouldn't want to eat at a filthy restaurant and neither should your backyard birds.