Wednesday, 17 April 2024

California Outdoors: Should I take down my bird feeders because of avian influenza?

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife suggests that a better option than bird feeders is to use native plants. Courtesy photo.

Bird feeders

Q: In response to recent warnings about avian flu in wild birds, I have taken down my bird feeders and bird baths. When is it OK to put them back out?

A: Infection with avian influenza viruses among songbirds, including many common backyard birds, appears to be relatively rare. However, feeding and providing water to wild birds is generally discouraged because the increased congregation of wild birds at bird feeders and bird baths may lead to fecal contamination of the local environment, which can aid in disease transmission.

While the risk of avian influenza to most songbird species appears low, there are other more common diseases, such as avian pox and avian trichomonosis, that periodically circulate among wild birds that may cause increased mortality during outbreaks.

Rather than providing bird seed to wild birds, a healthier option would be to provide natural sources of food by landscaping with native plants, if possible. This will benefit wild birds and pollinators like butterflies and bees.

If you do choose to have bird feeders and bird baths, it is generally recommended that bird feeders and bird baths are thoroughly cleaned outdoors at least once a week, and more often if there is heavy use by birds. Disposable gloves should be worn and hands should be thoroughly washed after handling of bird feeders and bird baths.

Please note, some pathogens can persist in water, on surfaces or in soil for hours to days, so even the most rigorous cleaning may not be enough to stop all disease transmission. If backyard chickens or other captive birds such as ducks, geese, pigeons, doves and parrots are present in the area, it’s strongly recommended not to have bird feeders and bird baths, and to exclude wild birds from accessing chicken feed and water.

Hunter education

Q: I recently completed my hunter education course. How do I obtain my hunter education certificate?

A: Currently, CDFW’s Hunter Education course is offered in three formats – traditional, hybrid and online. The traditional and hybrid courses include in-person instruction and testing. Those who successfully complete one of these courses will be issued a card-style hunter education certificate by the instructor. The online only course allows you to print out a paper certificate upon completion.

Regardless of which course format you complete, a Hunter Education certificate on durable license paper can also be purchased through CDFW’s Online License Sales and Services webpage by following these steps: login, select “Purchase Licenses,” then select “Hunter Education,” and then “Hunter Education Certificate (Dup).”

For additional information about both basic Hunter Education and Advanced Hunter Education, please visit CDFW's California Hunter Education webpage.

You may also consider purchasing a lifetime license. There are two types: the lifetime fishing license and lifetime hunting license. To learn more, visit CDFW’s Lifetime Licensing webpage.

Welcome to the ranks of California hunters! We wish you many memorable and successful seasons ahead.

Shipping wildlife skulls

Q: Can I ship a crocodile skull to California? I sell them online and have a client in California who would like to purchase one.

A: California Penal Code section 653o prohibits the sale of alligator or crocodile parts in California, even though neither are native to our state. However, this Penal Code provision is the subject of active litigation, and currently both the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Attorney General are enjoined from enforcing this law.

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