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As avian flu cases grow, Illinois DNR advises against use of bird feeders, baths through May

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says hummingbird and oriole feeders should be OK to stay up.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Editor's note: The video above is from April 7, 2022. 

While there haven't been any confirmed cases of avian flu in songbirds, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is advising against the use of bird feeders and baths through May 31

The Illinois DNR issued the updated public recommendation on Thursday regarding wild birds and the EA H5N1 strain of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza.

It could be possible that bird lovers can put their feeders and baths out sooner if HPAI infections diminish before May 31, according to the department. 

However, an April 25 Facebook post from the Illinois DNR says hummingbird and oriole feeders should be OK to leave up in the meantime. Their experts believe it's "unlikely" these birds will contribute to the spread of HPAI.

Many of you have asked if hummingbird and oriole feeding are included in our recommendation to remove bird feeders and...

Posted by Illinois Department of Natural Resources on Monday, April 25, 2022

The Illinois DNR also recommended the following to help mitigate infections: 

  • Clean and rinse bird feeders and baths with a diluted bleach solution (nine parts water to one part bleach) and put away or clean weekly if they can’t be moved away from birds.
  • Remove any birdseed at the base of bird feeders to discourage large gatherings of birds or other wildlife.
  • Avoid feeding wild birds in close proximity to domestic flocks.

The department also asked residents to contact a district wildlife biologist if five or more deceased wild birds are found in one location. Contact information can be found by clicking/tapping here

RELATED: Bird flu drives free-range hens indoors to protect poultry

When disposing of any deceased wild birds, the department said rubber gloves and a mask should be worn. The body of the bird should be "double-bagged and sealed in plastic bags" before either burying the bag away from scavengers or throwing it in the garbage if approved by a local waste service provider. 

Anyone who handles deceased birds should wash their hand and any other clothes or tools with soap and water following disposal.

The department first detected the virus in wild Canada geese on March 10. 

Since then, Illinois DNR said bird deaths from the virus have been confirmed in Champaign, Fulton, Sangamon and Will counties. Recently, more than 200 birds in Cook County were suspected to have died from HPAI.

More information about the state of avian flu in the country can be found on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's website

RELATED: QC bakeries feeling effects of inflation over Easter weekend due to bird flu

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