Updated: Oct 19, 2021
On top of the continuing battle against Coronavirus, we are now fighting Avian Influenza (Bird Flu). Following several very serious cases found around the country, England was recently declared an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone. This means that all bird keepers, whether you have 500 birds or 5, are now legally obliged to take precautions to protect your birds against this very serious virus - including, where practicably possible, bringing birds inside or under cover so that wild birds and their droppings cannot enter their living spaces and risk introducing the disease.
We're working hard to put all of the necessary precautions in place to protect our birds here at the sanctuary, and as we know many of you also keep pet birds - small flocks of chickens, ducks, and other winged friends; we thought we'd share some information to help you at this time.
Biosecurity is absolutely crucial at this time. This means not only keeping your bird enclosures clean, but all furnishings within them paying particular attention to food and water bowls, all tools and equipment used, the areas surrounding enclosures, and yourself.
Cleaning with a good disinfectant is very important. Always read the container or product data sheets (you can usually find these on the manufacturer's website) to make sure your chosen product is effective against the Avian Influenza virus, and use the correct dilution. You can find a list of Defra approved disinfectants here.
As the virus is spread through droppings and secretions from infected birds (if you're a bird keeper, you'll know how often just a single bird can poo!), it is so easy to accidentally introduce the virus without taking these precautions. Could you be taking it in to your chicken coop on your feet whilst walking through your garden? Can wild birds or other wildlife access your feed and bedding storage areas? Stand back, look at your bird enclosures and care routines, then carry out a simple Bird Flu "Risk Assessment", aiming to eliminate as many of the risks that you come across as you possibly can.
For more in-depth, official guidelines, you can find the Government's Bird Flu resources here.
Depending on the types of birds you keep and numbers, it may not be practical to completely enclose your birds. Remember to bear their physical and mental welfare in mind, and monitor them each day for any changes - even the smallest changes in behaviour or appearance may be an indicator of something amiss. If you are worried at any point, seek advice from a professional such as your avian vet.
This virus won’t dominate the headlines like Covid, but it is extremely real, and very serious for the birds it can infect - a bird sanctuary not too far away in Worcestershire has sadly had all of their residents euthanised after some tested positive for the virus, and we cannot even begin to imagine being forced to do this. It simply cannot happen!
We regret that due to this, we won’t be able to take in any unwanted birds at this time. This is to, again, protect our birds at the sanctuary; birds you might be familiar with here such as Nigel the Goose, Malcolm the Emu, Benedict the Rooster, and so many more... Our animals rely on us to keep them safe, and we must put them first!
Wishing you and all of your feathered friends good health!