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Bird flying above stormy seas

We are very concerned about the impact of bird flu, and we know that many local people are too.

Here are some of the questions we’re often asked, with answers for those looking for information and guidance.


What should you do if you find a dead or sick bird?

While it is very sad to see birds in distress, any sick birds should be left alone.

Do not touch sick or dead birds and keep dogs well away from them.

You can find official government guidance using this link.

Call Defra (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) on 03459 33 55 77 if you find:

  • one or more dead birds of prey
  • 3 or more dead gulls or wild waterfowl (swans, geese and ducks)
  • 5 or more dead birds of any species.
Bird flying above rough seas

If you report a dead wild bird, Defra and APHA may arrange to collect it and test it. This is to help explain where bird flu is spreading in Great Britain and in which types of birds.


What is bird flu?

Avian influenza, or bird flu, is a variety of influenza caused by viruses adapted to birds.

Birds with avian flu may behave strangely, for example, not moving away from you when they otherwise would. Other symptoms include a swollen head, closed/watery eyes, poor balance, drooping wings and dragging legs.


What does the outbreak mean for coastal birds?

We are very concerned about our coastal birds, particularly species that gather in large flocks over the winter.

Our Rangers have spotted increasing numbers of dead birds when visiting coastal sites, with more being reported around the Solent.

The most recent national updates can be found on the government’s webpages about the latest bird flu situation.

Ducks floating on the water

Is there a risk to human health?

The UK Health Security Agency (previously known as Public Health England) advise that bird flu is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to the general public’s health is very low.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has said bird flu poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.

What can I do to help?

Clean bird feeders and baths regularly – the RSPB have some helpful guidance available on their website.

When you’re visiting the coast, keep dogs alongside you to avoid contact with infected birds, and clean footwear between visits to help prevent the spread of bird flu.

You can also support our birdlife by following the Bird Aware Coastal Code.

In this challenging time, it is even more crucial that birds are given the space they need to feed and rest undisturbed.