The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has issued recommendations to the public regarding wild birds and the EA H5N1 strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) currently impacting some wild and domestic bird species. The Illinois Audubon Society is urging everyone to be mindful of this precaution and take measures accordingly.
The IDNR first announced HPAI was detected in wild Canada geese in Illinois on March 10, 2022 in a joint notice with the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA). Since that time, wild bird mortality from HPAI has been confirmed in Champaign, Fulton, Sangamon, and Will counties with a more recent mortality event of more than 200 birds in Cook County suspected to be caused from HPAI.
While HPAI has not been detected in songbird species (passerines), the IDNR recommends the use of bird feeders and bird baths cease through May 31, or until HPAI infections in the Midwest subside, especially those in which waterfowl may visit. This is specific to seed/grain feeders and it is unlikely that hummingbird and oriole feeders will contribute to the spread of HPAI. During spring, wild birds will have ample food sources while bird feeders are removed.
Wild birds impacted include waterfowl and waterbird species, as well as some raptors, including bald eagles. Detections in domestic poultry flocks have also occurred. For more information on the status of HPAI in wild birds and domestic bird flocks in Illinois and other states, visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) website and IDOA, HPAI website.
If five or more deceased wild birds are observed in one location, an IDNR District Wildlife Biologist should be contacted. A listing by region is available here, or call USDA Wildlife Services at 866.487.3297.