Due to threat of avian flu, Michigan DNR has advice for people with bird feeders

“We recommend really careful cleaning”
Due to threat of avian flu, Michigan DNR has advice for people with bird feeders
Published: Apr. 15, 2022 at 6:05 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 18, 2022 at 4:28 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - State officials have confirmed Friday that bird flu has been detected in birds in Livingston County.

It’s the fourth county in Michigan where a bird has tested positive. The others are Kalamazoo, Macomb and Menominee counties. The strain is extremely deadly for birds, so the procedure is to destroy the entire flock to prevent the spread.

Update: ‘Now is the time to protect them’ -- Avian flu found in Washtenaw County pets

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the risk to humans is low.

While scientist and veterinarians are doing what they can to slow the spread of avian flu, there are some things you can do as well.

Dr. Megan Moriarty is a Wildlife Veterinarian Specialist at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

“We are recommending that if people are concerned or want to do something to try to limit the spread of Avian Influenza that it could be a good idea to remove your bird feeders,” Dr. Moriarty said.

She said the DNR is not banning bird feeders and not everyone wants to take their bird feeder down.

“If you really want to be cautious but still keep your feeders up, I would say daily cleaning of a feeder with a diluted bleach solution could also be helpful,” Dr. Moriarty said.

Cleaning the bird bath daily helps to keep birds like crows, blue jays and gulls -- which are more susceptible to the virus -- away from your feeder. Right now, Dr. Moriarty said song birds “are not thought to be a highly susceptible group of birds for the highly pathogenic Avian Influenza.”

She said they are still learning about the virus and it’s not easy to tell if a bird is infected. Because of that, it’s crucial to keep your pets and backyard flocks from mingling with wild birds. However, Dr. Moriarty listed a few signs you probably won’t miss:

  • shaking or tremors
  • inability to stand
  • circling
  • coughing
  • discharge on bill
  • crusted eyes

If you plan to keep your bird feeder up, make sure birds that are more prone to Avian Influenza -- such as water fowl, raptors, owls, hawks and scavengers -- stay away.

If you suspect your bird is sick you can reach the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development at 800-292-3939 (daytime) or 517-373-0440 (after-hours).

For more information on how you can protect yourself and your birds from Bird Flu click here.

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