A mystery illness may be slowly and quietly causing a decline in the common Brewer's blackbird, and red-winged and tricolored blackbirds also appear to be affected. Bird enthusiasts and scientists have observed the strange malady that results in the loss of toes in specimens dating as far back as the 1960s. Potential culprits include viral infections combined with secondary bacterial infections, mites, chronic irritation, caustic chemicals or blood parasites, but none perfectly matches the condition.

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