Avian Flu and Bird Feeders: Everything You Need to Know

As the bird flu virus continues to evolve and make headlines, it’s natural to have questions. There has been confusion about whether people should take down their feeders to stop the spread of this disease among wild birds. 

Can bird feeders spread bird flu? What bird species are most at risk?  

We take a deep dive into the most recent expert testimonials and CDC advice to answer whether  avian bird flu can be spread through bird feeders.

What is Avian Influenza (Bird Flu?)

Bird flu, also called avian influenza, is a disease caused by an infection with an avian (bird) influenza (flu) Type A virus. 

Bird flu is nothing new, the virus has been circulating among birds and poultry in different parts of the world for many years. 

However a newer, more deadly strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) or H5N1 has been making recent headlines for destroying flocks and raising the price of eggs.  

flu we see all over the news was first identified in wild birds in the U.S. in January 2022, according to the CDC

How Bad is Bird Flu?

commercial chickens

Don’t wait to protect your flock. It’s estimated that HPAI infections can have a mortality rate up to 90% to 100% in chickens, often within 48 hours!

To date, the virus has killed or required the culling of a record 58 million chickens, turkeys, and ducks in commercial and backyard flocks.

How Does Avian Bird Flu Spread?

Influenza viruses are actually common among wild aquatic birds, and many birds, like geese and ducks, are often carriers for the virus. These sick birds may not even show signs of being sick, but they can still infect your flock. 

Bird flu is spread by:

  • Human interaction. Humans may be able to transfer bird flu to chickens if they have recently had contact with an infected or dead bird. In the current contagion of bird flu, it’s best to limit who visits your birds at home.  If you need someone to take care of your flock, ask them to wash their hands and wear clean clothes and footwear.
  • Wild birds. The virus doesn’t need close contact to spread! Your chickens could be at risk of catching bird flu when they have access to the same environment as infected birds, like the same field or pond. For example, if an infected flock of wild geese shares the same pond as your chickens, your flock could become infected without the two flocks coming into contact.

Can Bird Feeders Spread Bird Flu?

Since the bird flu can spread through indirect transmission, you may be wondering what the correlation is between bird feeders and avian flu.

It’s true that if an infected bird touches a shared food or water source, a bird can get sick – even if it’s from a bird feeder. Some experts are warning people with domestic birds to take their feeders down. 

“Birdfeeders are a shared food source for wild birds and no birdfeeder is safer than another, said Louise Sagaert, director of Wildside Rehabilitation Center.

Feeders and bird baths have the potential to spread bird flu. Although song birds have a lower risk of spreading the disease, food sources may also attract local wildlife like ducks and geese — known carriers for the disease. Bird baths may could also be a risk. 

What Birds are at Risk?

Canadian Geese In Yard

These viruses occur naturally among wild aquatic birds worldwide and can infect domestic poultry and other bird and animal species. The most carriers for bird flu are wild aquatic birds and shorebirds including:

  • Ducks
  • Geese
  • Swans
  • Gulls
  • Terns
  • Storks
  • Sandpipers 

Thankfully, there is currently low risk of an outbreak among wild songbirds. Transmission to songbirds and other typical feeder visitors has been low (less than 2% of all cases reported in wild birds).

However for those with commercial or domestic poultry, it may be best to remove any bird feeders to protect against any potential threats of bird flu. 

How to Minimize the Risk of Avian Bird Flu at Bird Feeders

1. Clean Your Bird Feeders Regularly

Cleaning feeders is one way to potentially prevent the avian influenza outbreak from reaching your flock. Some experts suggest cleaning your birdfeeder often with a 10% bleach solution. 

2. Keep Wild Birds Off Your Property

One of the top ways to protect your chickens is to avoid attracting wild birds to your farm or home. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggests that given the rise in (HPAI) bird flu in wild birds and domestic poultry in the U.S., “bird owners should review their biosecurity practices and stay vigilant to protect poultry and pet birds from this disease.” 

Some of the top ways to ensure your biosecurity and protect your animal health is to:

  • Avoid attracting wild birds to your residence
  • Cover or enclose any outdoor feeding areas for poultry
  • Avoid visiting any ponds or streams, especially with pets
  • Consider reducing large puddles and standing water that may be a nice resting place for migratory birds
  • Use a deterrent to keep wild birds away from your property

Avian Control Can Help Protect Your Flock

The most efficient way to consistently and effectively deter wild birds from infecting your chickens is with Avian Control, a humane, long-lasting liquid bird repellent. 

Here are the top reasons Avian Control is the best bird deterrent spray for your property:

  • Affordability
  • 10-14 days of protection
  • No damage to the property
  • No harm for the wild birds, humans or other animals
  • Easy application methods to suit your preferences

Other methods may take time each day to ensure their potential success, but Avian Control can be sprayed just once and it lasts up to 14 days. 

Shop today or contact us at 888.868.1982 to talk with one of our experts today.

Avian Flu and Bird Feeders: Everything You Need to Know