Stay Safe: Help Prevent the Spread of Avian Influenza

April 13, 2023, Toronto, ON — April marks the return of many bird species to Ontario. It’s a spectacular time to see the array of birds that call Toronto and region home during the summer months, as our greenspaces bloom with colour and activity. As more people also return outdoors with the rise in temperature, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) offers information on how you can stay safe and prevent the spread of avian influenza, while continuing to enjoy our parks and trails.

avian influenza is a viral infection that is highly contagious among birds
Eastern Kingbird
Barn Swallow

What is Avian Influenza?

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), also referred to as bird flu, is a viral infection that is highly contagious among birds. The risk of transmission to humans is low. However, other animals, like carnivores as well as pets, are at a higher risk.

Signs that a bird may have avian influenza include:

  • Nervousness
  • Tremors or lack of coordination
  • Swelling around the head, neck, and eyes
  • Lack of energy or movement
  • Coughing, gasping for air, or sneezing
  • Diarrhea
  • Sudden death

Note: Not all infected birds may appear sick.

How to Stay Safe

To help protect your health and the health of your family, friends, pets, and wildlife, please take the following precautions:

  • Do not touch or feed wild birds.
  • If you see a sick or dead bird, report it to the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative. Do not attempt to assist the bird yourself.
  • Clean backyard bird feeders and baths regularly and consider removing them during the spring and summer months.
  • Do not frequent areas with bird droppings.
  • Keep your pets on a leash and away from sick or dead birds, bird droppings, and bodies of water.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after spending time outdoors and before eating.

These guidelines can be applied to interactions with all wildlife – not just wild birds.

TRCA is excited to embrace the spring season and welcomes everyone to do the same while taking the steps above to remain safe.

Learn more about avian influenza from the Government of Canada and the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative.


About Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA)

Since 1957, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), as enabled through the provincial Conservation Authorities Act, has taken action to enhance our region’s natural environment and protect our land, water, and communities from the impacts of flooding and increasingly extreme weather events – Ontario’s leading cause of public emergencies.

As the region’s first line of defence against natural hazards, TRCA maintains vital infrastructure and provides programs and services that promote public health and safety, protecting people and property.

TRCA mobilizes a science-based approach to provide sound policy advice, leveraging its position as a not-for-profit operating in the broader public sector to achieve collective impacts within our communities and across all levels of government.

TRCA’s jurisdiction includes nine watersheds and their Lake Ontario shorelines, spanning six upper-tier and fifteen lower-tier municipalities and representing almost five million people, approximately 10% of Canada’s population.

To learn more about TRCA, visit


Media Contact

Crystal Lee
Communications and Media Relations Specialist
Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA)