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

Initially revealed April 20, 2022. Up to date October 26, 2022.

Many individuals are involved concerning the 2022 outbreak of avian influenza, or chicken 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 October 26, one particular person within the U.S. has examined constructive for avian influenza and developed gentle 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 may be at the moment very low threat of an outbreak amongst wild songbirds, and no official advice to take down feeders except you additionally maintain home poultry, in accordance with the Nationwide Wildlife Illness Program. We do all the time advocate that you just clear chicken feeders and birdbaths recurrently as a strategy 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 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 might be typically round people), for the presence of avian influenza. To date in 2022, they’ve detected the HPAI pressure in 3,124 wild birds, with 57 detections in songbirds (see under for a listing of species). Newest data concerning the outbreak.
  • Avian influenza doesn’t have an effect on all varieties 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 chicken species. For instance, waterfowl typically carry and transmit chicken 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 vulnerable to HPAI and unfold the illness simply, resulting in as much as 100% mortality of affected flocks.
  • Songbirds are a lot much less doubtless than waterfowl to contract avian influenza and fewer prone to shed giant quantities of virus, that means they don’t transmit the illness simply. (See Shriner and Root 2020 for an in depth assessment within the journal Viruses.)
  • In keeping 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 isn’t a proof supporting their involvement as pure reservoirs for IAV.” (Slusher et al. 2014)
  • For these causes, it’s unlikely that chicken 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 chicken feeders?

  • The primary concern with songbirds is the prospect {that a} uncommon particular person may transmit an an infection to poultry. It is a concern as a result of poultry are a lot extra susceptible than songbirds to HPAI.
  • The important thing intervention is to maintain songbirds away from poultry; it’s much less necessary 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 chicken feeders or maintain them properly away from their captive flock

If you happen to maintain nest bins:

Avian influenza is just hardly ever transmitted to people, in accordance with the USDA, however however our NestWatch venture all the time advises good hygiene and extremely recommends that individuals put on disposable gloves and/or wash their fingers totally after checking nest bins. Most birds that use nest bins are songbirds, that are at low threat for contracting or transmitting avian influenza. If you happen to monitor waterfowl or raptor nests (e.g., Wooden Duck, Widespread Merganser, Canada Goose, American Kestrel, Barred Owl), we advise 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 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 if you happen to discover a sick or useless chicken:

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

Further Sources:

Wild chicken species with HPAI detections in 2022

Up to date October 26, 2022. Complete variety of detections in wild birds: 3,124. Detections in songbirds: 57. See 2022 Detections of Extremely Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Wild Birds for contemporary detections.


American Crow (31 complete: 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)
Boat-tailed Grackle (1, Florida)
Widespread Grackle (1, Montana)
Widespread Raven (15 complete: 11, Alaska; 1, Minnesota; 1, Montana; 1, Washington; 1, Wisconsin)
Darkish-eyed Junco (1, Minnesota)
Fish Crow (2 complete: 1, Florida; 1, New York)
Purple-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-crowned Night time-Heron
Black-legged Kittiwake
Blue-winged Teal
Broad-winged Hawk
Brown Pelican
Cackling Goose
California Gull
Canada Goose
Caspian Tern
Cinnamon Teal
Widespread Eider
Widespread Goldeneye
Widespread Loon
Widespread 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
Higher White-fronted Goose
Inexperienced Heron
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.
Purple-necked Grebe
Purple-shouldered Hawk
Purple-tailed Hawk
Ring-billed Gull
Ring-necked Duck
Ross’s Goose
Tough-legged Hawk
Royal Tern
Ruddy Duck
Ruddy Turnstone
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
White Ibis
Wild Turkey
Wooden Duck
Wooden Stork

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