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Avian Influenza Update, February 21, 2024

I’m pleased to say there was good news in the reports I received this week, as the number of  dead geese reported had greatly reduced. However, there were more reports of dead crows, and indications that Avian Influenza might be spreading to wildlife.

The Public Works Department had reports of six dead geese last week, compared to 100 in the previous two weeks. They did not find any dead crows, and had no reports of dead crows.

Sandy Pines Wildlife Center has received no geese for several days, and no reports of dead ones. However, it did receive several crows with neurological symptoms which were euthanized.

In the reports that KFN members sent in from around our region:

  • no dead geese or other waterfowl were seen on eight sections of shoreline between Bath and Amherstview. Canada Geese were present at most locations, including two flocks of 300-400 birds at Bath. There were no obvious signs of illness or distress in any of these birds.
  • No dead geese on the ice floating into Collins Bay, or on the shoreline around it. However, two otters seen on the ice near Edith Rankin church looked fat and uncomfortable: they normally look sleek and energetic when seen at this time of year.  they are sleek and energetic.
  • A week ago I was driving west on Bath Road just before Kingston Toyota when a panting Fisher staggering onto the road and then weaved off into the ditch. It had disappeared by the time I had turned around. 
  • No carcasses along the shoreline at Old Front Road.
  • no dead geese along the stretch of shoreline between Crerar Park and Everitt Park.
  • The dead geese at the Invista/Dupont warming pond have been removed, including those near the shoreline.  There is a dead goose at the warming pond that looks like it is new but covered with snow.
  • One dead crow seen off the townhouses at Elevator Bay.
  • No dead geese along the Doug Fluhrer Park waterfront. Two dead crows on York St.
  • There have been only a handful of geese at the east end of Howe Island over the weekend. I have not observed any sick or dead birds along this area of shoreline.

The Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative received about 200 reports of dead geese from the Kingston region, mainly in the vicinity of Lake Ontario Park and Elevator Bay. Avian influenza has been found in six geese. It has also been found in three dead crows from different locations in Kingston, a Bald Eagle and a Raven.

It has also received isolated reports of Avian Influenza in geese from other places in Ontario, including Vaughan, Hamilton and Brampton. There is also a major outbreak of avian influenza among crows in Cornwall.

There was no sign of Corvid Orthoreovirus in the Crows from Kingston. There may, however, be Corvid Orthoreovirus elsewhere in Ontario, as 60 dead crows have been reported in Woodstock, and there is no indication of avian influenza in those birds.

Many thanks to Chris Cannon, Christine Miller, Glenn Owen, Jan Allen, Jenna at CWHC, Karen Santucci, Ken Edwards, Merry Barber, Phillida Hargreaves, Richard Cooper, Steve Manders and Sue Meech for the information they provided.

Please send observations regarding living geese, dead geese and crows and other birds, and/or erratically behaving wildlife over the coming weekend to conservation@kingstonfieldnaturalists.org  as I would like to keep monitoring what is happening.

It has been suggested that the Avian InfIuenza outbreak was concentrated at Lake Ontario Park/Elevator Bay because the infected geese were all in one flock. In that case the geese regularly observed in other places such as Collins Bay Penitentiary and Doug Fluhrer Park are in different flocks and there is little mixing between them. I would like to hear what people with more knowledge about Canada Geese behavior than I have think of this theory.

Chris Hargreaves (he/him)
Chair: Kingston Field Naturalists’ Conservation Committee

Featured photo: ©hilbert, some rights reserved (CC-BY-NC) Source: https://inaturalist.ca/observations/190336357