Avian influenza protocol?

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dainkosadie's picture
Avian influenza protocol?

Hi all,


I got am email from my colleague saying there was a blurb from AKP that came out about changing monitoring protocol due to AI.


I didn't get this message so I'm reaching out here to see what the info on that was. I oversee our county's monitoring program and want to let the volunteers know if there are changes to monitoring protocol.



Sadie D

Nu-Sun Cinema
Nu-Sun Cinema's picture

Here is the info we have receive about monitoring protical.

Nu-Sun Cinema   American Kestrel Research Center  link to  http://www.nu-sun.com/html/kestrel_korner.html

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

As of 7 March 2023, there have now been five reported cases of HPAI in American Kestrels in the United States during the current outbreak, all resulting in kestrel fatalities. One of these was a bird found dead in the wild (in North Dakota in May 2022), while the other four died in human care. (Sadly, this included the two ambassador kestrels at the Teton Raptor Center in Wyoming in December 2022; the other two cases were at facilities in Florida and Minnesota.) There have been only four reported detections in screech-owls (all in birds found deceased in the wild), and no reported detections in other small owls, woodpeckers, or other kestrel box-using species.

The current HPAI strain has been detected in every US state except Hawaii and every Canadian province and territory except for the Northwest Territories, and new cases are being reported almost daily from across the continent. Map by the United States Geological Survey's National Wildlife Health Center.

In light of these developments (or lack thereof), our recommendations for the upcoming breeding season remain largely unchanged from those we put out last year. While the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) does not consider the virus a threat to human health, caution should be taken to limit potential human exposure and to avoid spreading possibly infectious material from box to box. The following recommendations are developed directly from current CDC guidelines for individuals whose work potentially brings them into contact with wild birds: 

  1. Use personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, an N95 respirator if available, or, if not available, a well-fitting facemask, and eye protection while monitoring boxes. Change or disinfect all PPE between boxes.
  2. To limit the potential for transporting the virus from one box to another, do not open boxes to check on their contents unless absolutely necessary (e.g., to band adults or nestlings). Observe a box’s contents through the entrance hole or utilize a pole-mounted camera or nest cameras whenever possible. If a pole-mounted camera is used, disinfect it between boxes.
  3. Avoid touching your mouth, nose, or eyes during monitoring activities, and wash or otherwise disinfect your hands in between boxes.
  4. If you find a bird you believe may be sick with (or have died from) HPAI, leave the bird where it is and contact your local health or wildlife authority for guidance. In the US, this will be your local state wildlife agency or state health department; in Canada, a list of relevant local authorities can be found here. Partners elsewhere should contact the appropriate health or wildlife authorities in your country.
  5. Consider the possibility of human exposure when deciding whether to monitor your boxes this year. The risk of a box monitor becoming infected with HPAI during box monitoring is extremely minimal, especially if the above precautions are taken, and no human has developed more than mild symptoms after exposure to the current HPAI virus. All the same, the only way to completely avoid any possibility of exposure to HPAI while monitoring kestrel boxes is to not monitor boxes. The AKP supports whatever decisions our partners make regarding their health and safety.
Monitor boxes from the outside whenever possible, either by looking in the entrance hole or by using a pole-mounted camera or nest cameras. Leaving the box closed during monitoring significantly lowers the chances of human exposure to HPAI and of spreading potentially infectious material from box to box. Photo by Matthew Danihel.
dainkosadie's picture

Thanks so much for the info.



AKP-Matthew's picture

Hi Sadie -

Thanks for reaching out, and thanks to Nu-Sun for posting the text. Short version, our recommendations for this year are largely unchanged from what we recommended last year—use PPE when monitoring boxes, and avoid opening boxes unless absolutely necessary (i.e., for banding).

The text Nu-Sun posted was from our most recent newsletter, which can be read in full here. As a registered AKP partner, you should be on our email list, but if you're not for whatever reason, you can sign up at https://kestrel.peregrinefund.org/newsletters. (Also worth checking your spam folder.)

Thanks, and best wishes for a successful 2023 season!

AKP Staff