Ask SIB: Should we take feeders down due to Avian Flu?

Susan Markhum recently noted: Avian flu killed the two eaglets on Hilton Head. They suspect it happened after eating a bird that had it. I just wonder if we should take our feeders down.

Sadly, the eaglets mentioned in our earlier blog did die of Avian Flu. Hilton Head Land Trust posted on their site: We have received the initial, but not final results, that the eaglets cause of death was the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (“HPAI”) commonly seen in wild birds. (We) can’t express enough how great the Birds of Prey Center has been with their help and guidance and the care and concern of the eaglets.  We have learned a great deal and experienced nature with its glory and reality of the challenges they face.

To answer Susan’s question, SIB reached out to Deb Carter. Deb is a Research Professional at the University of Georgia’s laboratory in Veterinary Pathology. Her field work is  related to Avian Influenza at the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study. She regularly visits Seabrook Island beaches to collect Ruddy Turnstone droppings for her study. Her response was: As of right now there are no cases as to indicating that  passerines have  been infected with HPAI.   I have not removed my bird feeders at home, but that is up to you.  There is no cause for an alarm with the songbirds as far as HPAI goes. The eagles are probably eating ducks that have been infected with HPAI and that is probably why they are getting sick.

So although the eaglet news is sad, for now we can continue to enjoy the visits of our feathered friends to our feeders.

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