Is it safe to watch birds, feed birds, and monitor nest boxes?

Yes. Based on all current information, it’s safe to watch wild birds in North America, as well as to feed them, attract them to your yard, and even handle wild birds as wildlife biologists and rehabilitators do.

To date, the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus has not been found in birds or people in North America. Even in areas where the virus has been found, there have been no documented reports of humans contracting the virus from wild birds, except for an unconfirmed report that patients in Azerbaijan may have become ill after defeathering swans.

In most cases, humans have become infected after close contact with diseased poultry, products, or contaminated surfaces, i.e., close contact with large amounts of virus shed by infected birds. This is very different from how bird watchers and biologists interact with birds.

As always, to avoid contracting any illness from wild birds, you should wash your hands thoroughly after handling bird feeders, bird nests, birdbaths, or water contaminated by bird droppings. Avoid touching bird droppings or dead birds. If you must move a dead bird, use disposable gloves or double plastic bags.

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