By Rob Daves

Avian influenza – AKA the “bird flu” – has been detected in domestic poultry and wild birds in Minnesota (Blue Earth, Hennepin, Anoka counties).  But what does that mean to those of us who maintain backyard feeders?

Recommendations are mixed.  The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), for example, says it doesn’t have a record of songbirds being infected with AI right now, and recommends “taking down and cleaning your bird feeders during spring.”  Oh, and be sure and report any sick or dead birds to the DNR at 888-646-6367, the Minnesota Raptor Center helpline at 612-624-4745 (if the sick bird is a raptor), or the Board of Animal Health Avian Influenza hotline at 833-454-0156.

On the other hand, the Minneapolis Audubon Chapter’s blog recommends taking down feeders during the spring migration to avoid birds clustering together and increasing the virus’ spread.

One MRVAC member, Liz Stanley, has a specific program she’s put in place:  reducing the number of her feeders, using the types that don’t allow birds to congregate, putting less food out at a time and cleaning between refills, sweeping underneath and removing bird baths. Laura Erickson, our MRVAC friend in Duluth, has a great discussion on her blog noting how importing feeding birds is for human mental health, and has recommendations for a targeted approach such as Liz’s.

More info: