DEC: Owls found dead in Peconic tested positive for avian influenza

An adult great horned owl and two owlets found dead in Peconic earlier this month have tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation officials have confirmed.

The DEC had collected the birds’ carcasses on April 4, taking them to the Cornell Duck Research Laboratory to be tested.

A DEC spokesperson confirmed all three owls tested positive for HPAI, a highly contagious strain of bird flu, which has been detected in several eastern states so far in 2022 and can be particularly dangerous for livestock.

Paula DiDonato of Southold said she discovered one of the owls last week. She’d been watching a nest in her neighborhood for about two weeks when she noticed a “large great horned owl” sitting in the tree during the day, which she thought was unusual.  She said she later found the carcass of an owlet on the ground near the nest with no clear cause of death.

In February, the first case of HPAI in New York was found in Suffolk County in a domestic flock.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention has said that the recent HPAI detections in birds do not present an immediate public health concern, the DEC said. No human cases of avian influenza viruses have been detected in the United States.

The DEC said the public should report dead ducks, geese, swans, waterbirds (including gulls), raptors, pheasants, turkey and grouse, or any group of five or more dead birds in one area to the regional DEC Wildlife office at [email protected] or the DEC Wildlife Health Unit 518-478-2203. For more information visit