The BC SPCA has requested that the public temporarily remove bird feeders and empty birdbaths due to a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) spreading across the province and country.
Avian influenza, also known as ‘bird flu,’ is a virus that affects many different species of birds, including farm, wild and pet birds, BC SPCA says.
BC SPCA says the H5N1 strain causes severe illness and death in birds, and the virus is spread through bird feces and respiratory secretion, and can survive in the environment for several months and then move on to infect other birds.
“Bird feeders can be sites for disease spread because they encourage unnatural congregations of birds and attract other wildlife,” says Dr. Andrea Wallace, manager of wild animal welfare for the BC SPCA.
“Fallen seed is also an especially dangerous source of disease – when birds feed from the ground, they are also exposed to droppings that accumulate below a feeder.”
“On rare occasions, this virus can also cause disease in humans who have been in close contact with infected birds or heavily contaminated areas,” Wallace adds.
“We need to do everything we can to stop H5N1 in its tracks.”
Wallace would also like to say that hummingbird feeders aren’t as much of a risk as they are species-specific, so a limited group of birds feed on there.
Still, it is essential to regularly change the nectar and clean the feeders to prevent other outbreaks.
If a sick bird is seen at the feeder, take it down.
The BC SPCA also asks the public to report sightings of sick or dead wild birds to the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative (CWHC) at 1-800567-2033.
For more information, visit the BC SPCA website.