This is a developing story and will be updated periodically as more information becomes available
An outbreak of avian flu has been spreading across the United States and Canada over the past six months. First appearing in Canada last fall, the flu has significantly impacted industrial poultry flocks and has now been detected in a wide variety of wild North American wild including cases in the Great Lakes region.
Most cases of the avian influenza A (H5N1), or HPAI, are currently found in domestic bird and poultry, but there are now documented reports of it spreading to wild birds, particularly free-ranging Canada Geese, cormorants, Tundra Swans, Snowy Owls and other raptors and waterfowl in the Great Lakes region. While this is concerning, there are only rare incidences of the disease spreading to or by migratory passerines (songbird species) at this time, with current reports of cases impacting birds in the crow and jay family outside of the Great Lakes region.
The following are precautionary recommendations to take if avian flu is active in your region:
- Take down feeders when bird flu is active in wild birds in your region or if you are seeing sick birds near or at where you are feeding. Follow the recommendations of local, state and federal wildlife agencies. Taking down bird feeders does not negatively impact your backyard birds. Food resources are abundant during spring.
- Clean and wash feeders regularly with soap and/or 10% bleach solution to reduce the chances of infection. This is an important regular practice to help reduce the spread of other avian diseases.
We also suggest proactively monitoring birds in yards or at birdfeeders at a safe distance. Do not touch or get near any bird showing signs of illness and immediately alert your state/local wildlife agency.
Signs of illness include swimming or walking in circles, holding the head or neck in an unnatural position, the inability to smoothly rotate or tilt the head, and difficulty flying.
If you find sick or dead birds, we encourage you to submit a report to your state or District wildlife conservation agency. Please find contact information for each state agency below and use the links to submit reports or access more localized updates:
- Illinois Department of Natural Resources
- Indiana Department of Natural Resources
- Michigan Department of Natural Resources
- Ohio Department of Natural Resources
- Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
For more information, the CDC is maintaining a helpful interactive map showing counties in which bird flu has been detected in wild birds. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/avianflu/data-map-wild-birds.html
You can read more about the avian flu in the Audubon article here: https://www.audubon.org/news/north-american-birds-face-their-own-pandemic-latest-bout-avian-flu
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