can bird feeders spread bird flu

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.

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.

If you keep nest boxes:

Avian influenza is only rarely transmitted to humans, according to the USDA. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the general public health risk from avian flu to be low. Nevertheless, our NestWatch project always advises good hygiene and highly recommends that people wear disposable gloves and/or wash their hands thoroughly after checking nest boxes. Most birds that use nest boxes are songbirds, which are at low risk for contracting or transmitting avian influenza. If you monitor waterfowl or raptor nests (e.g., Wood Duck, Common Merganser, Canada Goose, American Kestrel, Barred Owl), we suggest you wear gloves, change or wash gloves and disinfect equipment between nest boxes, wear a mask when cleaning out nest boxes, and change clothes and footwear before visiting any domestic poultry.

What to do if you find a sick or dead bird:

Avoid handling sick or dead birds. Alternatively, give your state’s wildlife health agency a call; they can ascertain the cause of death and forward the bird to the relevant laboratory for examination. Furthermore, keep pets away from dead or sick wild birds, including pet birds.

  • Avoid contact with birds that appear sick or have died.
  • Avoid contact with surfaces that have bird feces.
  • If you must touch sick or dead birds:
  • Wear gloves and a face mask.
  • Place dead birds in a double-bagged garbage bag.
  • Throw away your gloves and facemask after use.
  • Wash your hands well with soap and warm water.

Bird flu is not a risk to food safety. It is safe to consume poultry and eggs that have been handled carefully and cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F.

Get in touch with your healthcare provider if handling sick or dead birds makes you feel unwell.

Can Bird Feeders Spread Bird Flu?

You might be wondering if bird feeders and avian flu are related, given that the bird flu can spread through indirect transmission.

It is true that birds can become ill from shared food or water sources if they come into contact with an infected bird, even if the bird feeder is the source. Experts are advising homeowners who own pets to remove their bird feeders.

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

Bird flu can be spread by feeders and bird baths. Songbirds are less likely to spread the illness, but food sources may draw in nearby wildlife, such as ducks and geese, who are known disease carriers. Bird baths may could also be a risk.


Do bird feeders spread disease?

The Salmonella bacteria are spread at feeders contaminated by feces, or by eating feed off the ground. Salmonella bacteria can also cause illness in humans and domestic animals. Sick birds cannot swallow feed because of an infection in the throat.

Is it OK to put up bird feeders?

In general, it’s bad practice to feed wild animals. That’s because teaching wild animals to associate humans with handouts can lead to problems. Think: “bad” bears at campsites; alligators stalking people. And the danger is not just to humans.

Can you get bird flu from being around birds?

Bird flu spreads between both wild and domesticated birds. It has also been passed from birds to humans who are in close contact with poultry or other birds. There is no clear evidence that the virus can be transmitted from human to human.

Can bird flu spread through food?

No human bird flu infections have been reported from proper handling of poultry meat or from eating properly cooked poultry or poultry products.