Many backyard bird feeding enthusiasts are concerned about Avian flu. Is it dangerous to feed the birds? Is it safe to attract birds into my yard?
According to several reputable sources including the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, backyard bird feeding and bird watching is safe. So go ahead – feed the birds!
Avian Flu is caused by the H5N1 virus. To date, this virus has not been found in people or the types of birds that frequent backyard bird feeders in North America (chickadees, cardinals, finches etc.)
Most cases of Avian flu have been contracted through close contact with infected poultry or poultry by-products. If you’re not processing poultry, you’re probably not at great risk for contracting Avian flu.
Despite the low risk of bird flu, it is still very important to keep your feeders and feeding stations clean. At least once a month, clean your bird feeders in a solution of one part bleach to ten parts water. Soak them for three minutes, rinse and allow to air dry. Wash your hands with soap and water after handling bird feeders, nest boxes, houses or baths that may be contaminated by bird droppings.
If you find a dead bird, use disposable gloves to pick it up. Double plastic bags will work also. Avoid touching bird droppings with unprotected hands.
Avian flu is a serious illness but it shouldn’t stop bird lovers from feeding their backyard birds. Common sense precautions and a sensible cleaning program will keep your birds (and you) healthy and happy. So keep on feeding!