I have a bird feeder (or birdbath) in my yard. Am I putting myself and healthy birds at risk of infection?
West Nile Virus is most often spread to humans from the bite of an infected mosquito. However, it’s always a good idea to follow basic hygienic procedures. Birdbaths and feeders should be washed or disinfected regularly. Wash your hands with soap and water after touching the baths/feeders. Here is a brochure on best practices for coping with disease at bird feeders.
To prevent mosquitoes from breeding on your property, empty and clean birdbaths at least once a week and eliminate any other standing water in your area. Contact local health officials if you are concerned about potential mosquito breeding sites in your area.
In a natural setting, the only way that a bird can become infected with West Nile Virus is through the bite of an infected mosquito. It’s highly unlikely that a bird can get the virus simply by close association with an infected bird.
A female mosquito (Aedes japonicus) reared from larvae collected from the Kawaikoi Stream, Kauai.
Researchers dip sampling for mosquitoes along the Alaka‘i Swamp Trail, Kaua‘i
Culex species mosquito biting a human hand.
Three neotropical birds (Left to right: Magnolia warbler, Wilson's warbler, Canada warbler - all males) that were cought in mist net for banding
USGS scientists capture and release wild birds while monitoring for West Nile.
Mosquito, Aedes aegypti
Curlews are very attentive parents and fly close to intruders and alarm call to distract them from their young broods. USGS scientists take advantage of this behavior by using a mist net to sweep birds out of the air when they approach. In June 2007, USGS scientists used this approach to tag 13 curlews with satellite transmitters at their southern breeding area in Alaska. They use satellite telemetry to track these birds, in order to map their migration routes and find the location of their nonbreeding areas.