Experts Recommend Removing Bird Feeders and Baths as Avian Flu Spreads
Your backyard bird feeders might be doing your feathered friends more harm than good.
As of last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had recorded more than 30 million cases of the bird flu in aquatic birds, commercial poultry, and backyard flocks across at least 33 states. Out of an abundance of caution, experts are recommending people stop using outside bird feeders and baths to help stop the spread of the deadly pathogen also known as HPAI and H5N1.
"In areas with HPAI transmission in any avian species, consider pausing the use of bird feeders and baths for the next couple of months until the rate of virus transmission in wild birds dramatically decreases," Dr. Victoria Hall of the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota said in a statement. "Not only will this action help to protect those beautiful, feathered creatures that visit your yard, but will also help all wild bird species that are already having it hard this spring because of HPAI."
Bird flu is spread in the feces and respiratory secretions of infected birds and can be easily transmitted. The virus is hardy and can survive for weeks in wet and freezing temperatures.
While hummingbird feeders are not 100 percent safe, Hall explained that they pose a lower risk than general feeders as there are limited groups of birds visiting them.
If you do decide to keep your feeders up, scientists encourage emptying and cleaning them weekly, removing bird seed at the base of feeders to discourage large gatherings, and avoiding feeding wild birds near domestic flocks.
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"We have it in our power to take a short-term action so we are not accidentally assisting in the virus' spread," Dr. Hall said. "This outbreak won't last forever and I, for one, am greatly looking forward to when I can safely hang my bird feeders back up!"
For more information visit raptor.umn.edu.