GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Some good news for birders. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says that despite the ongoing outbreak of HPAI — highly pathogenic avian influenza — people can safely bring back their bird feeders if they take extra precautions.
This past spring and fall, the DNR recommended people take down backyard bird feeders to help slow down the outbreak, which can be exacerbated by the interactions between different birds at the feeders.
While songbirds and others that typically visit bird feeders are less susceptible to HPAI, the increased interactions can help the virus spread to other birds that are more at risk, including local chicken flocks.
One key part of the spread is over now that fall migrations are finished.
“It is recommended that bird feeders be taken down during fall migrations out of an abundance of caution,” the DNR said in a release. “Fall migrations for most birds end around late fall or early winter. It should be safer to put out bird feeders this winter, particularly once your local waters freeze over.”
The DNR also recommends people clean their bird feeders every other week using a 10% bleach solution — one part bleach to 10 parts water.
“Cleaning bird feeders regularly will help prevent transmission of HPAI and other diseases,” the DNR said. “Scrub away any debris and dry the feeder before refilling. Clean bird baths with a scrub brush in a solution nine parts water and one part vinegar.”