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


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

Many individuals are involved in regards to the 2022 outbreak of avian influenza, or chook flu, that has effects on 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 accordance with the Facilities for Illness Management. As of July 14, one particular person has examined optimistic for avian influenza and developed delicate signs, in Colorado.

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 Danger of Avian Flu to Songbirds

There may be at the moment very low danger of an outbreak amongst wild songbirds, and no official suggestion to take down feeders except you additionally preserve home poultry, in accordance with the Nationwide Wildlife Illness Program. We do at all times advocate that you simply clear chook feeders and birdbaths often as a strategy to preserve many sorts of ailments at bay.

We additionally at all times advocate that you simply observe any suggestions put out by your state authorities, such because the current request to take down feeders in Illinois. We’ll replace this web page because the scenario develops.

How do we all know songbirds are at low danger?

  • USDA APHIS has a robust, multiyear surveillance program that routinely samples wild birds, together with flocks of songbirds (and different species reminiscent of Rock Pigeons and Mourning Doves which can be typically round people), for the presence of avian influenza. Thus far in 2022, they’ve detected the HPAI pressure in 1,826 wild birds, with 41 detections in songbirds (see under for an inventory of species). Newest data in regards to 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 chook species. For instance, waterfowl typically carry and transmit chook flu, however not often get sick from the illness (even from HPAI strains). Raptors are way more delicate to the illness than waterfowl. Home poultry are extraordinarily inclined to HPAI and unfold the illness simply, resulting in as much as 100% mortality of affected flocks.
  • Songbirds are a lot much less seemingly than waterfowl to contract avian influenza and fewer more likely to shed massive quantities of virus, which means they don’t transmit the illness simply. (See Shriner and Root 2020 for an in depth evaluation within the journal Viruses.)
  • In accordance with a separate examine within the Journal of Wildlife Illnesses, “…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 chook feeders will contribute to an outbreak amongst songbirds.

If songbirds are at low danger, why are individuals who preserve poultry suggested to take down their chook 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 essential to maintain songbirds away from one another.
  • In case you have a yard poultry flock, these are crucial steps to take:
    (click on for full data on these biosecurity measures from USDA APHIS)
  • As a secondary measure, USDA APHIS recommends for poultry homeowners to take down wild chook feeders or preserve them properly away from their captive flock

In case you preserve nest bins:

Avian influenza is barely not often transmitted to people, in accordance with the USDA, however nonetheless our NestWatch mission at all times advises good hygiene and extremely recommends that individuals put on disposable gloves and/or wash their palms completely after checking nest bins. Most birds that use nest bins are songbirds, that are at low danger for contracting or transmitting avian influenza. In case you monitor waterfowl or raptor nests (e.g., Wooden Duck, Widespread Merganser, Canada Goose, American Kestrel, Barred Owl), we propose you put on gloves, change or wash gloves and disinfect tools between nest bins, put on a masks when cleansing out nest bins, and alter garments and footwear earlier than visiting any home poultry.

In case you are 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 steering for rehabbers, from USDA APHIS. Rehabbers in New York State are additionally inspired to contact the Cornell Wildlife Well being Lab for extra data.

What to do should you discover a sick or useless chook:

Keep away from dealing with sick or useless birds. As an alternative, name your state wildlife well being company; they’ll decide reason behind demise and ship the chook to the suitable lab for testing. Moreover, preserve pets (together with pet birds) away from sick or useless wild birds.

Further Assets:

Wild chook species with HPAI detections in 2022

Up to date July 14, 2022. Whole variety of detections in wild birds: 1,826. See 2022 Detections of Extremely Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Wild Birds for contemporary detections.


American Crow (19, North Dakota; 1, Michigan; 2, Minnesota; 1, Washington; 6, Wisconsin)
American Robin (1, North Dakota)
Black-billed Magpie (3, Wyoming)
Widespread Grackle (1, Montana)
Widespread Raven (1, Alaska; 1, Minnesota; 1, Washington; 1, Wisconsin)
Darkish-eyed Junco (1, Minnesota)
Fish Crow (1, New York)
Pink-winged Blackbird (1, Michigan)


American Black Duck
American Kestrel
American White Pelican
American Wigeon
Bald Eagle
Barred Owl
Black Vulture
Blue-winged Teal
Broad-winged Hawk
Brown Pelican
Canada Goose
Caspian Tern
Widespread Goldeneye
Cooper’s Hawk
Widespread Loon
Widespread Tern
Cormorant sp.
Darkish-eyed Junco
Double-crested Cormorant
Duck sp.
Eared Grebe
Glaucous Gull
Nice Black-backed Gull
Nice Blue Heron
Nice Horned Owl
Better White-fronted Goose
Inexperienced-winged Teal
Gull sp.
Hawk sp.
Harris’s Hawk
Heron sp.
Herring Gull
Hooded Merganser
Horned Grebe
Laughing Gull
Lesser Scaup
Merganser sp.
Muscovy Duck
Mute Swan
Neotropic Cormorant
Northern Harrier
Northern Pintail
Northern Shoveler
Owl sp.
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
Brief-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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