The moving tragedy of Avian Flu

I wonder how many saw the article about the factory chickens in Newfoundland, Canada being struck with the HPAI or Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza? Did you even think about it, if you did?

On 6 January, the CBC announced that hundreds of birds in Newfoundland, Canada had contracted the H5N1 strain of avian flu.

What is extraordinary about this is that it is the same ‘highly pathogenic’ (HPAI) avian flu strain that killed the two White-tailed Eaglets in the Balkans last spring. The male had brought a stork or a crane onto the Estonian nest and the two chicks died as a result of eating it according to the autopsy conducted by Madis Leivits. Thijs Kuiken, Virologist from Erasmus University, Rotterdam said to me in an e-mail, ‘HPAI outbreaks in wildlife were restricted to autumn and winter, and had stopped altogether or were at low levels by the time spring arrived’. Kuiken notes that the incidence of HPAI is overlapping with the breading season of many wild animals that could have been impacted. Many chicks could have died.

Going back to the Newfoundland issue, the question is: how did it cross the Atlantic? Kuiken is working with the Newfoundland Government to discover how this might have happened.

Today it was announced that this same Avian Flu is responsible for the culling of swans in the UK including those that belong to the Queen.

Of further interest is the fact that the same HPAI strain was discovered The in a bird shot in South Carolina in late December 2021. No region appears to be untouched.

If you are interested in learning more about Avian flu and its impact, please read the following article by Dr Kuiken. It is very informative and can be understood easily without great scientific knowledge.

How will this impact the health of all wild birds in Europe and North America? What can be done? Some answers are in the article above. Perhaps it is time to really look at the factory farming of animals carefully and deliberately to a view of becoming more local.

For those of you that enjoy watching the streaming bird cams and particularly those of the various types of eagles, it is possible that we will see more deaths due to H5N1 this season.

Sadly, we wait.

The featured image is credited to: “Swans @ River Thames, Kingston” by Kotomi_ is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0


  1. Linda Kontol says:

    Mary Ann this is so upsetting. I pray this is gone or going away and doesn’t impact our birds and wild animals.

    1. Sadly I think this is just the beginning – according to what I understand from Dr Kuiken. I am very interested in how it moves between populations and places. I found pages of scientific data showing the locations but I did not include them. It would impact birds eating birds. I must ask Dr Kuiken about Ospreys.

  2. Really sorry to hear about this. It doesn’t bode well…. Thanks for the heads-up, Mary Ann.

    1. I will not say it is pleasurable to report it but, we should know what it means when we read about avian flu or hear it on the news. It often makes just a short blip of a report and yet, it is hugely serious. I hope they can figure out a way to stop it in its tracks, Betty.

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