Bird feeders and bird flu: What you need to know

With more cases of bird flu identified in Waterloo Region and Wellington County over the past week, some people are taking down their bird feeders for fear of spreading of it.

The most recent case of Avian Flu reported in the area was on Monday, but cases have been on the rise in the area.

"The most common species we're seeing it in at the moment are Canadian geese, bald eagles, and turkey vultures," said Brian Stevens, a wildlife pathologist for Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative. "If you do have chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, or another other birds on your property, our recommendation is to take down [your bird feeders] for your own birds' safety."

Stevens adds that, while infection can be deadly to some birds, there's no need to panic and remove feeders unless there's a backyard flock.

"Song birds are rarely going to be affected by this virus," he said. "We're not as concerned right now, we do recommend that people monitor birds that visit their feeder for any evidence or illness."

Catherine Hale, the owner of Wild Birds Unlimited in Kitchener, says the best way to keep your bird visitors healthy is by regularly cleaning and disinfecting your feeder.

"One per cent bleach and nine parts hot water," she said. "Leave your feeder in and submerged in that solution to sanitize."

Shayan Sharif, a professor at the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph, recommends temporarily removing feeders.

"It's definitely spreading much faster, and the extent of spread of this particular outbreak is not something we've seen before," said Sharif. "Congregation of birds is not necessarily a good thing. If I were to use a COVID-19 analogy, this would be some sort of a physical distancing that will have to be put in place."