Avian Influenza: It Is Safe to Practice Responsible Backyard Bird Feeding

Those of us that love birds and nature are closely monitoring the current outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza that has been detected in North America. While this strain of bird flu is easily transmitted and often deadly in poultry, as of April 2024 all evidence suggests that songbird species are at a very low risk.

According to scientists and wildlife agency experts across US and Canada, there is NO need to take feeders down, because passerines – songbirds – do not appear to be susceptible to or transmit HPAI H5N1 (Highly Pathogenic Avian Flu). This March 2023 article by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology summarizes current information, and recommends that only if you keep backyard poultry should you remove your birdfeeders (and also take steps to limit your domestic flock’s exposure to wild birds).

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website has the most current information on Avian Flu, and deems this virus to be of low risk to human health.

To practice the hobby of bird feeding safely and to ensure the birds’ overall health, it is always recommended you clean your bird feeders regularly with a solution of one part bleach and nine parts water.

Offering healthy food to our feathered friends is good for them, as long as it is done in a responsible manner. Studies have shown increased survival rates of birds with access to feeders during periods of harsh weather conditions. In addition, birds with access to supplemental food also have increased nesting success. So, keep your feeders full and all your backyard habitat components clean. Enjoy your birds and rest assured that you are helping them prosper.