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

Initially revealed April 20, 2022. Up to date October 7, 2022.

Many individuals are involved in regards to the 2022 outbreak of avian influenza, or hen 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. Observe that transmission of avian influenza from birds to people may be very uncommon, in keeping with the Facilities for Illness Management. As of October 7, one particular person has examined optimistic 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 presently very low danger of an outbreak amongst wild songbirds, and no official suggestion to take down feeders except you additionally hold home poultry, in keeping with the Nationwide Wildlife Illness Program. We do all the time suggest that you just clear hen feeders and birdbaths frequently as a technique to hold many sorts of ailments at bay.

We additionally all the time suggest that you just observe any suggestions put out by your state authorities, such because the latest request to take down feeders in Illinois. We are going to 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. To this point in 2022, they’ve detected the HPAI pressure in 2,746 wild birds, with 53 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 hen species. For instance, waterfowl typically carry and transmit hen 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 inclined 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 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 evaluation within the journal Viruses.)
  • In line with a separate research within the Journal of Wildlife Illnesses, “…though passerines and terrestrial wild birds could have a restricted function 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 hen feeders will contribute to an outbreak amongst songbirds.

If songbirds are at low danger, why are individuals who hold poultry suggested to take down their hen feeders?

  • The principle concern with songbirds is the prospect {that a} uncommon particular person would possibly 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.
  • You probably 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 homeowners to take down wild hen feeders or hold them effectively away from their captive flock

If you happen to hold nest bins:

Avian influenza is just hardly ever transmitted to people, in keeping with the USDA, however nonetheless our NestWatch challenge all the time advises good hygiene and extremely recommends that folks put on disposable gloves and/or wash their palms totally after checking nest bins. Most birds that use nest bins are songbirds, that are at low danger for contracting or transmitting avian influenza. If you happen to monitor waterfowl or raptor nests (e.g., Wooden Duck, Frequent 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 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 in case you discover a sick or lifeless hen:

Keep away from dealing with sick or lifeless birds. As an alternative, name your state wildlife well being company; they will decide reason behind loss of life and ship the hen to the suitable lab for testing. Moreover, hold pets (together with pet birds) away from sick or lifeless wild birds.

Extra Assets:

Wild hen species with HPAI detections in 2022

Up to date September 22, 2022. Complete variety of detections in wild birds: 2,746. Detections in songbirds: 53. See 2022 Detections of Extremely Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Wild Birds for up to date 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)
Frequent Grackle (1, Montana)
Frequent Raven (13 complete: 9, Alaska; 1, Minnesota; 1, Montana; 1, Washington; 1, Wisconsin)
Darkish-eyed Junco (1, Minnesota)
Fish Crow (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-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
Japanese Screech-Owl
Glaucous Gull
Nice Black-backed Gull
Nice Blue Heron
Nice Egret
Nice Horned Owl
Higher 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.
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
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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