Avian influenza or bird flu

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has confirmed there have been cases of avian flu or bird flu in wild birds such as geese throughout the UK. 

Report a dead wild bird found in a public space

If you wish to report a dead bird, please call the Customer Service Line at Coventry City Council on 08085 834333 or report dead wild birds online.

About bird flu

Bird flu is a virus that affects birds, including wild birds such as geese, swans, birds of prey, pigeons and poultry. As with other viruses, there are lots of different strains of the bird flu virus. The current outbreak seen in the UK can cause severe disease and death in birds.

How does bird flu spread?

It is spread from bird to bird through contact and through droppings. Wild birds are often more resistant to bird flu than domestic birds and can carry and spread the virus without showing symptoms.  

Can bird flu affect people?

Human infections with bird flu are rare and the risk to the general public is very low.

However, some strains of the virus, have been associated with human disease. This is why we are encouraging people not to have close contact with dead, sick or injured birds. Of all the reported cases in humans worldwide, almost all have been associated with extremely close contact with infected birds (dead or alive).

Close contact includes touching infected birds; contact with droppings; killing or preparing infected birds for cooking; inhalation of feather dust.

Bird flu is not transmitted through properly cooked food. Cooked poultry and eggs are safe to eat in areas where outbreaks have occurred. 

What are the signs of bird flu in birds?

  • sudden and rapid increase in the number of birds found dead
  • closed and watery eyes
  • unresponsiveness
  • incoordination and loss of balance
  • drooping of the wings and/or dragging of legs
  • twisting of the head and neck.

What should I do if I find a dead bird in a public space?

Your health is very important. Please do not approach or touch any dead, ill or injured bird. If you are walking with your dog, keep your dog away from the infected bird. Please do not take an injured bird to the Coventry RSPCA branch or a vet.

If you find a dead bird, please report any dead wild birds online or through the Customer Service line on 08085 834333.

Someone from the team will attend the park or public place you have identified to remove the bird(s). If the public space is not owned by Coventry City Council, we will forward the information you provided for them to remove the bird.

What should I do if I find a dead bird in my garden?

If you find small numbers of dead garden birds at your home you can dispose of them in your household waste bin, or you can bury them. For disposing or burying garden birds you can follow the advice given by the UK Government.

You can report small numbers of dead garden birds to Garden Wildlife Health

If you find a dead bird of prey, for example a hawk, or a large number of dead garden birds, for example 5 or more of the same species, you can report this to the Animal and Plant Health Agency. 

Disposal of birds in household waste refuse

  • if possible, wear disposable protective gloves when picking up and handling dead wild birds (if disposable gloves are not available, a plastic bag can be used as a make-shift glove).
  • When the dead wild bird has been picked up, the bag can be turned back on itself and tied, enclosing the dead wild bird within the bag
  • the bag containing the dead wild bird should then be placed in a second plastic bag (preferably leak proof). Care should be taken not to contaminate the outside of the bag
  • remove any gloves or other hand coverings used, by turning them inside out and then place them in the second plastic bag, taking care not to touch the outside of the gloves with bare hands
  • tie the second bag closed and dispose of in the normal household waste (general refuse lidded bin outside)
  • wash hands thoroughly with soap and water.

Burial of birds

  • the dead wild bird can be buried, but not in a plastic bag
  • the depth of the burial hole must be sufficient to prevent animals scavenging and gaining access to it – at least 60cm deep is advised and the location must not be near any watercourses, or likely to contaminate local water supplies
  • if possible do not use your hands to move the bird

If you have to use your hands:

  • wear disposable protective gloves when picking up and handling any dead wild birds (if disposable gloves are not available, a plastic bag can be used as a make-shift glove)
  • dispose of any gloves or other hand coverings in a bag (preferably leak proof), being careful not to touch the outside of the gloves or other hand covering with your bare hands
  • tie the second bag closed and dispose of in the normal household waste (general refuse lidded bin outside)
  • wash hands thoroughly with soap and water

Do I need to do anything about birds nesting around my house and garden?

Gardens are really important places for our birds.  Bird flu is predominantly being reported in bird species that are not commonly found in gardens, so the risk to you from wild birds is very small. There is no need to deter birds from coming to your garden.

To minimise the risk further, if you see sick or dead birds, do not touch them, their droppings, or any water nearby and clean the birdfeeder and water features when you can.

If you see a baby bird (fledgling) in your garden, leave it to its own devices. Its parents are almost certainly nearby and will look after it.   

What if I touched the dead bird?

If you came into contact with a bird with potential avian flu, please monitor for any flu-like symptoms such as fever and congestion. Please read the NHS website for further details.

What to do if I suspect my pet ate a dead bird?

If your domestic animals (cats or dogs) go outside and could potentially eat sick or dead birds infected with bird flu viruses, there is a small chance they could be infected with bird flu. While it’s unlikely that you would get sick with bird flu through direct contact with your infected pet, it is possible.

If your pet is showing signs of illness (such as fever, panting, lethargy) compatible with bird flu virus infection and has been exposed to infected (sick or dead) wild birds/poultry, you should monitor your pet’s health for signs of fever or infection and contact your veterinarian.

Poultry or captive birds

It is now a legal requirement for all bird keepers in Coventry to keep their birds housed and follow strict biosecurity measures. This is regardless of type of bird or size of flock.

Biosecurity measures and how to prevent bird flu from spreading on the GOV.UK website.

If you keep poultry or a large number of captive birds, we encourage you to notify our Trading Standards Team by emailing tradingstandards@coventry.gov.uk  If the information received from the Animal Plant Health Authority (APHA) changes the team will contact you by email.  

What to do if you think your bird(s) may have bird flu

If you are concerned about the health of your birds, speak to your private vet. If you suspect bird flu, you or your vet must report it immediately to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) even if the signs are mild. Report this immediately by calling APHA on 03000 200 301

How to maintain welfare whilst your birds are housed

Birds of prey or other species trained to fly, such as racing pigeons.

Customer Services

Open 9am–5pm Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays). If you do need to call us, please try to avoid our busiest times of lunchtime and early afternoon. Many queries relating to Council Tax, benefits or bin and bulky waste collections can be dealt with directly by logging into My Account.

Telephone: 08085 834333