How together we can protect wild birds from Avian Flu


An unprecedented outbreak of Avian Flu has killed thousands of wild birds on the Solway Coast, on the border of England and Scotland. In this video Stephen Magee from RSPB Scotland's Communications team reflects on what the RSPB is doing to try and prevent the disease from spreading and the small practical steps we can all take to help. Warning: This film contains images of dead birds.

What is Avian Flu and how is it affecting birds? 

Avian Flu, or bird flu, is an infectious disease which spreads from bird to bird through contact with infected saliva and droppings. There have been a number of outbreaks of Avian Flu in the UK in recent years, but the vast majority have been in domestic poultry farms.

This outbreak is unprecedented – the largest ever in the UK, with more than 4,000 birds having died already. The majority are barnacle geese on the Solway Firth. These geese, which migrate from Svalbard in arctic Norway, have been seen falling from the sky in distress and lines of dead birds have washed up on beaches.



What can I do to help?

Although most of the cases have been barnacle geese, other species have been affected and there are concerns the disease could spread. To help prevent the spread good hygiene is key. Cleaning bird feeders and feeding stations weekly, and changing bird drinking and bathing water regularly can make a big difference.

Find out about the best ways to clean your bird feeders here.


What should I do if I find a dead bird? 

Please do not touch any sick or dead birds. If you find any dead waterfowl (swans, ducks, geese), any gulls or birds of prey, please report them to the Defra helpline on 03459 335577 or in Northern Ireland to DAERA on 0300 200 7840. Please also see our dedicated page for Avian Influenza updates


This is an update to the original webpage. Republished on 7th January 2022.