Warning issued for bird lovers as avian flu spreads across Illinois

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is asking people to hold off from using bird feeders and bird baths until the end of May to help stop the spread of bird flu.

The state agency said in a news release that the flu is "currently impacting wild and domestic bird species ."

Just last week experts found more than 200 dead cormorants at Baker's Lake in Barrington.


The birds are being tested but officials suspect the culprit to be the avian flu.

In addition to halting use of bird feeders and bird baths, IDNR is asking people to keep them clean by using a diluted bleach solution at least once a week.

They also recommend cleaning out any seeds left at the bottom of the feeder to discourage birds from gathering in groups.

Mel Tracy with Wild Birds Unlimited is trying to ease the concerns of his fellow bird lovers.

"Even though [avian flu] is new to a lot of people, it's out there every year. Sometimes it's more impactful than other years," Tracy said

Tracy contends "bird feeding has no impact," pointing out that the IDNR said in their release that zero song birds have been affected.

"Basically it's just water fowl that's effected and they can spread it to domestic fowl, turkeys and chickens. So it does have a big economic impact but it doesn't affect backyard birds. I think they're coming from an abundance of caution," Tracy said.

He said he understands that concern but added 

"It's not about backyard birds. Zero backyard birds - zero song birds - have been effected by this," Tracy said.

IDNR cautions if you see five or more dead birds you should contact the agency. And any dead bird should be removed with caution, using rubber gloves and a mask.