Gadwall Hen (female) - Photo Duck Lover

This year 2021/2022 there has been an outbreak of the highly pathogenic bird flu (HPAI). The last major outbreak was in 2015.  This time the disease has been spreading widely in North America, with a concentration in the upper Midwest. Here is a map posted on the USGS web site:

Distribution of Avian Flu. Click the image to expand.

The summary shown here of the bird flu situation was copied from the CDC Site.

“Wild birds that carry bird flu viruses include waterbirds, like ducks, geese and swans, and shorebirds, like storks. Bird flu viruses can easily spread from wild birds to poultry, like chickens and turkeys. Some wild birds can carry bird flu viruses without appearing sick, but poultry, like chickens and turkeys, can get very sick and die from bird flu. If you raise backyard poultry or ducks, your birds can get bird flu if they have contact with infected wild birds or share food, sources of water, and environments with them. Most common songbirds or other birds found in the yard, like cardinals, robins, sparrows, blue jays, crows or pigeons, do not usually carry bird flu viruses that are dangerous to poultry or people.”

Risk to Humans: At this time the risk to humans is considered low, and mostly restricted to those working in commercial poultry facilities.  There have also been cases of HPAI detected in small backyard flocks of chickens, but I’ve not heard of any transmission to humans in this context. Others such as hunters might be exposed through waterfowl, and most recently in wild turkeys.  Anyone handling wild birds should exercise caution and employ appropriate safety procedures.  Do not handle sick or dead birds.

Wild Birds: Reported cases on the USGS web page include mostly a variety of waterfowl (the vast majority in ducks and geese), birds of prey, vultures.  This year for the first time HPAI has been detected in wild turkeys in Wyoming, Montana.

Bird Feeders: There is no reason, at this time, to suspend bird feeding activities. The earlier caution about bird feeders and an unidentified potential disease seems to have ended. Restrictions recommended at earlier have been discontinued.  Most of the birds that come to backyard bird feeders are not typically carry the HPAI virus or become sick from it.