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Home » Avian Influenza Outbreak: Ought to You Take Down Your Fowl Feeders?

Avian Influenza Outbreak: Ought to You Take Down Your Fowl Feeders?


Initially printed April 20, 2022. Up to date October 14, 2022.

Many individuals are involved concerning the 2022 outbreak of avian influenza, or fowl flu, that affects home poultry, waterfowl, raptors, and a few shorebirds within the U.S. and Canada. As a result of the present pressure (H5N1) causes heavy losses to poultry, it’s known as extremely pathogenic avian influenza, or HPAI. Word that transmission of avian influenza from birds to people could be very uncommon, in response to the Facilities for Illness Management. As of October 14, one particular person within the U.S. has examined optimistic for avian influenza and developed delicate signs, in Colorado in April 2022.

There was confusion about whether or not folks ought to take down their feeders to cease the unfold of this illness amongst wild birds. We checked with Dr. Julianna Lenoch, who directs the USDA APHIS Nationwide Wildlife Illness Program, and we’ve compiled the next summaries of key factors concerning HPAI, particularly amongst songbirds and different feeder guests.

Low Threat of Avian Flu to Songbirds

There’s at present very low threat of an outbreak amongst wild songbirds, and no official advice to take down feeders until you additionally maintain home poultry, in response to the Nationwide Wildlife Illness Program. We do all the time advocate that you just clear fowl feeders and birdbaths frequently as a solution to maintain many sorts of ailments at bay.

We additionally all the time advocate that you just observe any suggestions put out by your state authorities, even in circumstances the place that recommendation conflicts with ours. We are going to replace this web page because the scenario develops.

How do we all know songbirds are at low threat?

  • USDA APHIS has a powerful, multiyear surveillance program that routinely samples wild birds, together with flocks of songbirds (and different species resembling Rock Pigeons and Mourning Doves which might be typically round people), for the presence of avian influenza. To date in 2022, they’ve detected the HPAI pressure in 2,930 wild birds, with 53 detections in songbirds (see beneath for a listing of species). Newest data concerning the outbreak.
  • Avian influenza doesn’t have an effect on all kinds of birds equally. The “extremely pathogenic” a part of the time period HPAI refers particularly to the severity of the illness in poultry, not essentially in different fowl species. For instance, waterfowl typically carry and transmit fowl flu, however hardly ever get sick from the illness (even from HPAI strains). Raptors are way more delicate to the illness than waterfowl. Home poultry are extraordinarily prone to HPAI and unfold the illness simply, resulting in as much as 100% mortality of affected flocks.
  • Songbirds are a lot much less probably than waterfowl to contract avian influenza and fewer more likely to shed massive quantities of virus, that means they don’t transmit the illness simply. (See Shriner and Root 2020 for an in depth overview within the journal Viruses.)
  • In keeping with a separate research within the Journal of Wildlife Ailments, “…though passerines and terrestrial wild birds might have a restricted position within the epidemiology of IAV [avian influenza A viruses] when related to contaminated home poultry or different aberrant hosts, there is no such thing as a proof supporting their involvement as pure reservoirs for IAV.” (Slusher et al. 2014)
  • For these causes, it’s unlikely that fowl feeders will contribute to an outbreak amongst songbirds.

If songbirds are at low threat, why are individuals who maintain poultry suggested to take down their fowl feeders?

  • The primary concern with songbirds is the possibility {that a} uncommon particular person may transmit an an infection to poultry. This can be a concern as a result of poultry are a lot extra weak than songbirds to HPAI.
  • The important thing intervention is to maintain songbirds away from poultry; it’s much less vital to maintain songbirds away from one another.
  • If in case you have a yard poultry flock, these are a very powerful steps to take:
    (click on for full data on these biosecurity measures from USDA APHIS)
  • As a secondary measure, USDA APHIS recommends for poultry house owners to take down wild fowl feeders or maintain them properly away from their captive flock

When you maintain nest containers:

Avian influenza is barely hardly ever transmitted to people, in response to the USDA, however nonetheless our NestWatch venture all the time advises good hygiene and extremely recommends that folks put on disposable gloves and/or wash their arms completely after checking nest containers. Most birds that use nest containers are songbirds, that are at low threat for contracting or transmitting avian influenza. When you monitor waterfowl or raptor nests (e.g., Wooden Duck, Frequent Merganser, Canada Goose, American Kestrel, Barred Owl), we propose you put on gloves, change or wash gloves and disinfect gear between nest containers, put on a masks when cleansing out nest containers, and alter garments and footwear earlier than visiting any home poultry.

If you’re a wildlife rehabilitator:

Wildlife rehabilitators ought to take precautions when accepting sick birds in order that they don’t inadvertently introduce HPAI to the remainder of their sufferers. Right here’s additional steerage for rehabbers, from USDA APHIS. Rehabbers in New York State are additionally inspired to contact the Cornell Wildlife Well being Lab for extra info.

What to do in the event you discover a sick or useless fowl:

Keep away from dealing with sick or useless birds. As a substitute, name your state wildlife well being company; they will decide reason for dying and ship the fowl to the suitable lab for testing. Moreover, maintain pets (together with pet birds) away from sick or useless wild birds.

Extra Assets:

Wild fowl species with HPAI detections in 2022

Up to date October 14, 2022. Whole variety of detections in wild birds: 2,930. Detections in songbirds: 53. See 2022 Detections of Extremely Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Wild Birds for up to date detections.


American Crow (31 whole: 1, California; 1, Massachusetts; 1, Michigan; 2, Minnesota; 19, North Dakota; 1, Washington; 6, Wisconsin)
American Robin (1, North Dakota)
Black-billed Magpie (3, Wyoming)
Frequent Grackle (1, Montana)
Frequent Raven (13 whole: 9, Alaska; 1, Minnesota; 1, Montana; 1, Washington; 1, Wisconsin)
Darkish-eyed Junco (1, Minnesota)
Fish Crow (1, New York)
Pink-winged Blackbird (1, Michigan)
Tree Swallow (1, Alaska)


American Black Duck
American Kestrel
American White Pelican
American Wigeon
Arctic Tern
Bald Eagle
Barred Owl
Black Skimmer
Black Vulture
Black-legged Kittiwake
Blue-winged Teal
Broad-winged Hawk
Brown Pelican
California Gull
Canada Goose
Caspian Tern
Cinnamon Teal
Frequent Eider
Frequent Goldeneye
Frequent Loon
Frequent Tern
Cooper’s Hawk
Cormorant sp.
Crested Caracara
Double-crested Cormorant
Duck sp.
Eared Grebe
Jap Screech-Owl
Glaucous Gull
Nice Black-backed Gull
Nice Blue Heron
Nice Egret
Nice Horned Owl
Larger White-fronted Goose
Inexperienced-winged Teal
Gull sp.
Harris’s Hawk
Hawk sp.
Heron sp.
Herring Gull
Hooded Merganser
Horned Grebe
Laughing Gull
Lesser Scaup
Merganser sp.
Muscovy Duck
Mute Swan
Neotropic Cormorant
Northern Gannet
Northern Harrier
Northern Pintail
Northern Shoveler
Owl sp.
Parasitic Jaeger
Peregrine Falcon
Pheasant sp.
Pink-necked Grebe
Pink-shouldered Hawk
Pink-tailed Hawk
Ring-billed Gull
Ring-necked Duck
Ross’s Goose
Tough-legged Hawk
Royal Tern
Ruddy Duck
Sabine’s Gull
Sandhill Crane
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Quick-billed Gull
Snow Goose
Snowy Egret
Snowy Owl
Swainson’s Hawk
Trumpeter Swan
Tundra Swan
Turkey Vulture
Western Screech-Owl
Wild Turkey
Wooden Duck
Wooden Stork


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