Ojibway Park takes precautions as bird flu spreads in Ontario

·2 min read
Ojibway Park is telling visitors not to feed the birds this year. (Mike Evans/CBC - image credit)
Ojibway Park is telling visitors not to feed the birds this year. (Mike Evans/CBC - image credit)

Ojibway Park is taking precautions in light of the spread of avian flu in Canada.

The park has taken down its bird feeders in the hopes of preventing birds from gathering in the same place, and curbing any potential transmission of the virus.

But Tom Preney, the city of Windsor's biodiversity co-ordinator, said the birds will still have enough to eat.

"The birds do have lots of food available to them, so we really put seed out for our own pleasure — so we can see the birds up close — but they don't really need the bird seed," said Preney.

Park goers are also being asked not feed birds from their hands this year.

"That is one thing that we are discouraging people to do now at Ojibway Park," he said.

Mike Evans/CBC
Mike Evans/CBC

According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of avian influenza flu is spreading in this country and around the world. The illness affects both domestic and wild birds.

Cases have been confirmed in several regions of Ontario. Though no cases from Windsor-Essex are listed on the CFIA's website, Parks Canada says a case was found at Point Pelee National Park earlier this month.

When it comes to suspecting avian flu, one of the things to watch out for is abnormal behaviour, Preney said.

"If you were to approach a bird and if it doesn't fly away from you, that is abnormal behaviour," he said. "If it's tilting its head to the side, shaking, if it has tremors, something like that, that would be cause for alarm."

Mike Evans/CBC
Mike Evans/CBC

If you come across a bird you think might have avian flu, Preney said not to come into contact with it. He said to report it to the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative.

For those continuing to use backyard bird feeders, you can take precautions to prevent spread of the illness. You should make sure your feeder is as clean as possible by soaking it in a diluted bleach solution every week or two, Preney said.

Mary Jane Ireland, Canada's chief veterinary officer, said earlier that this month that this year has the largest number of bird flu cases in multiple provinces in recent memory and the first time Canada has seen H5N1.

Mike Evans/CBC
Mike Evans/CBC

When asked why avian flu has been so widespread this year, she said it's because there's a high number of wild, migratory birds with the virus.

"The environmental pressure in migratory birds is very high right now and I think that's the reason."

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