Responsible Bird Feeding during HPAI

Responsible Bird Feeding during HPAI

Important info for feeding the backyard birds during HPAI.



This is a blog regarding the Avian Flu that impacted Ontario in Spring and Summer 2022


I wrote this blog  last year, but it's still relevant in 2023. Unfortunately.


Aug 18 2023 A sign of hope?


Responsible Back Yard Birding in light of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) identified in birds migrating this spring (2022) up the Atlantic (Eastern Canada) and Mississippi corridor (thats us!).


Update April 8 2023

Dog Dies from Avian Flu  - Read article here


It's been reported that a dog died in Oshawa from Avian flu. The Birdhouse extends their deepest sympathies to the owner.

We have 3 Golden Retrievers so we understand the loss deeply. But before any panic sets in let's be clear about a couple of things. 


1. The dog in question ingested some dead wild goose. These are unusual circumstances.

Most dogs that are leashed or in their own backyards are not going to come up to a dead wild waterfowl.

So the risk is low for dogs to acquire avian flu. Prevention with leashing is so important.


2. Any dog who ingests any wild carrion is at risk to pick up various illnesses. Not just Avian flu.


3. If you come upon any dead wild bird or animal, in your yard or out in nature, it is imperative to control your dog with leashing,

and dispose of the animal properly, with gloves and deep burial where possible or black garbage bags tied and

protected from pets and other animals and reporting to the appropriate authorities.


See instructions and links below for proper reporting authorities.


Please don't think that I am downplaying this at all. We do need to exercise caution and keep an eye on how this progresses.

The links below will continue to keep you informed and up to date and I will continue to update this blog as necessary.

I won't hesitate to say take down your feeders when and if that time comes. And please listen to your local authorities on the subject.


Audubon article: The Bird Flu Blazes On



Birds in order of vulnerability. (This list could be updated as data comes in - if anyone is wiser to this list please let me know!)


1. Domestic poultry - no immunity. This flu has been devastating to the farming community.

2. Eagles/Hawks - little to no immunity

3. Corvids (ravens, crows, magpies and blue jays) - little to no immunity

3. Waterfowl - little to some immunity. Are carriers to the hawks and eagles who eat them.

4. Songbirds - little to no risk

5. Hummingbirds & Orioles - little to no risk



Update April 5 2022


UPDATE MARCH 29 2022 - The authorities have now recognized that this is primarily an Atlantic corridor issue and the Ontario (Mississippi Corridor) remains safe to feed the birds as usual.


The Birdhouse Nature Store and its staff are aware of incoming migration of songbirds that may be carrying HPAI. The following information is here for your convenience:


Regardless of the avian flu, we always recommend cleaning your feeders on a regular schedule. Avian flu is only one of the possible bacteria/virus that can be spread at feeders so keeping your feeders clean is an important part of being a backyard birder. This current HPAI just makes this all the more important.


Avian flu does not impact all bird species the same way. It can cause serious illness and death in domestic poultry stock who do not have any natural immunity to Avian Flu. This can be devastating to poultry farmers. A duck farmer in Quebec had 3 properties infected out of 13. 200,000 birds (including all their breeding stock) and 400,000 eggs were euthanized.  It is not however, currently considered a disease threat to wild song birds. Hawks and eagles that eat infected wildlife (like waterfowl) are impacted and euthanized when found. They often exhibit neurological impacts and won't survive.




Feeding wild birds in your backyard

The use of bird feeders is unlikely to spread highly pathogenic avian influenza virus, and the risk of an outbreak in wild bird species that frequent feeders is considered low. However, feeders should be removed from areas that are open to poultry and other domestic animals. Additionally, if you care for poultry, biosecurity measures that prevent and/or eliminate contact between wild birds and poultry are critical and include the removal of exterior/outdoor sources of food, water, and shelter that attract wild birds.

Backyard bird feeders and baths should be cleaned regularly, at least every two weeks, using a solution of one part household bleach to nine parts water. Ensure that they are well rinsed and dried before re-use. Regular cleaning practices are essential for disease prevention and control, as there are various other pathogens that are known to spread at feeders (e.g., trichomonosis, salmonellosis, and avian pox). If sick birds are observed near bird feeders, the feeders should be removed and the sick birds reported to the appropriate authority.


With this information The Birdhouse Nature Store recommends the following:


1. If you find a sick or dead bird, remove all feeders immediately for 3 weeks. Clean and sanitize prior to putting back out. Use gloves or shovel to dispose of bird by burying if possible. Into a garbage bag and out with regular garbage if not possible.  Do not use bare hands if possible and wash hands thoroughly after. 




Report sick or dead birds to:

  • Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative information line 1-800-567-2033 or by using their online reporting tool.

  • In Newfoundland and Labrador, to the Wildlife Emergency Number at (709) 685-7273.

  • In Prince Edward Island, to the Forests, Fish and Wildlife Division at (902) 368-4683.

  • In Nova Scotia, to the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and Renewables at 1-800-565-2224.

  • In New Brunswick, to the Department of Natural Resources and Energy Development at 1-833-301-0334.

  • In Québec, to the Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs at 1-877-346-6763.

  • In Ontario, to the Ontario regional centre of the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative at (866) 673-4781

  • In Manitoba, to the Manitoba Natural Resources and Northern Development 24 hours at 1-800-782-0076.

  • In Saskatchewan, to the Ministry of Environment Inquiry Centre at 1-800-567-4224.

  • In Alberta, to the Alberta Environment and Parks Office at 310-0000.

  • In British Columbia, to the Forest, Lands, Natural Resources Operations and Rural Development at (250) 751-3234


2. Hot water and a “natural” soap washing should occur at minimum, weekly to bi-weekly through this time and a soak in water with 10% bleach solution as mentioned above. Hummingbird and oriole feeders should be washed every 2-3 days and refilled with fresh nectar solution/jelly/oranges. This is especially important during high heat times. It has been noted that orioles and hummingbirds may be less impacted by the disease as they tend to group feed less often than other birds. This should not deter regular cleaning to deter other pathogens as well as avian flu.


3. We continue to recommend using a feeding system that prevents Starlings from eating. Starlings are an invasive bully bird, and during this time it will be all the more important to keep them away from feeders. Despite being a European bird, they've done exceedingly well in North America. Our native songbirds will need all the leg up they can get during this time, and access to food and habitat needs to be minimized for the Starlings so our songbirds have as much chance to excel as possible.

    a) Caged feeders will prevent the starlings from accessing food.

    b) Changing feed to straight safflower and straight nyjer, and straight striped sunflower will also help deter starlings from uncaged feeders. Most starlings do not eat black oil sunflower in the shell, but we have been hearing from customers that some seem to be adapting to cracking these open. Do not mix the stripe, nyjer or safflower with black oil or other seeds. Safflower, nyjer and striped sunflower do not repel Starlings, it deters them as they don't like or can't access those seeds. Adding seeds they like will only draw them to the feeders.


4. The ground beneath feeders should be maintained. Empty shells should be cleaned up and raked regularly, and the area hosed down on occasion on days with no rain. 



As for the Highly pathogenic Avian Flu:

The following links and information was copied from the Facebook Page FeederWatch Canada and are posted for transparency and your own convenient research:



Government of Canada website on wild birds and HPAI -



HPAI Update for Wild Birds in your Region –

You can receive automatic updates via email by sending a request to [email protected]



Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative (CWHC) – Reporting Website and Regional Contacts



Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) - Avian influenza Information and Contact Information



 Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) – Wild birds and avian influenza – Handling guidelines



Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) – Wild bird highly pathogenic avian influenza surveillance



Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative (CWHC) - Shipping and Handling Instructions



The US Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service – Updates on HPAI in wild birds.




  1. Amy Bodman Amy Bodman

    This is really helpful information. Thank you for it! Would you allow me to share it with the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists if we were to give you credit? We could even print part of it in our newsletter.
    Amy Bodman, current president of PECFN

    That would be great! Thank you! Bobbi

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