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More on the Avian Flu among Colorado birds.

January 23, 2023
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Female Mallard. Wheat Ridge Green Belt. January 19, 2023. Looks like a pretty healthy duck

Next week there is a “Snow Geese Festival” in Southeastern Colorado, the High Plains Snow Geese Festival which goes from February 3-5. “In spring, waves of bright white snow geese against an endless blue sky fly into southeastern Colorado.  They roost on the scattered lakes on the prairie and feed in the surrounding fields, making the area a favorite rest stop on their annual migration.”  In February, when the fields and reservoirs of Southeastern Colorado turn white—not from snow but from the large white geese arriving by the thousands during their traditional migration to their winter roosts—it’s time, once again, for the annual High Plains Snow Goose Festival, one of the largest birding festivals in Colorado.

I had intended to go but with the avian flu outbreak in Colorado and nationwide I have decided otherwise. So many birds coming together in close quarters is a perfect Petri dish for spreading the disease. Besides, the flu continues to ravage birdlife in the state and beyond. A recent article in the Boulder Daily Camera gives some of the latest info on avian flu in the county (Boulder County) where the numbers of dead birds continue to mount.  For example:

The USDA has recorded avian flu infections in 110 mammals since May 2022, including raccoons, foxes and skunks. Although the disease affects both domesticated birds and those in the wild, it can jump to humans although the numbers of humans that have caught the disease is rather small at this point.

  • In Boulder County, the University of Colorado Boulder this week reported finding dead geese on campus, including 17 at the pond at 28th Street and Colorado Avenue, and two at the pond near the Kittredge residence halls.
  • According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, more than 2,000 snow geese near the towns of Brush and Fort Morgan in Morgan County have died since Nov. 20 because of an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza. Smaller numbers of birds also have died in locations around the state, including a larger outbreak in southeastern Colorado, while outbreaks in wild birds and poultry continue to rise nationally.

It’s not just birds that have been effected.

The USDA has recorded avian flu infections in 110 mammals since May 2022, including raccoons, foxes and skunks. Although the disease affects both domesticated birds and those in the wild, it can jump to humans although the numbers of humans that have caught the disease is rather small at this point. A recent report in the New York Times notes that three Montana Grizzly Bears euthanized last fall tested positive for the disease. The bears were disoriented, had begun to go blind and were euthanized as a result of their poor condition, this according to the state’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks division.

The largest outbreak of kind, ornithologists have noted that while bird viruses have been known before, they note that this is the worst bird epidemic of its kind in North America and is far from having run its course. Again, according to the Times, It has infected nearly 60 million commercial and backyard flocks of birds in 47 states, and its near ubiquity has driven up poultry prices and caused egg shortages in supermarkets across the country, as consumers jostle for cartons topping $7 or more. To date, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, highly pathogenic avian influenza has been detected in all four North American migration flyways. The disease is expected to persist through spring migrations.

People are urged to handle dead birds with great care and to be careful to avoid geese droppings that litter trails and areas near ponds. People are also warned to watch their pets and to the degree possible keep them from stepping these droppings.

Northern Flicker. Wheat Ridge Green Belt. January 19, 2023

 

One Comment leave one →
  1. tim mccarthy permalink
    January 30, 2023 9:37 am

    Parks and Wildlife say to report to them if you see five dead birds in an area.

    I listened to this week’s Hemispheres, your analysis about the U. S. goal of fracturing other countries is not found in other media. I believe that you are correct. I came to that conclusion after the break up of Yugoslavia.

    thanks

    tim

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