Feeding the birds is easy and very rewarding, but are you disinfecting your feeders?
Feeders encourage lots of birds to visit the same spots, and therefore can enable the spread of diseases, but with little bit of regular cleaning you can help prevent this from happening.
Bird feeders bring food, many different species of bird, and possibly other animals like rats, to the same spots in your garden. Fungus and bacteria can accumulate and spread among your bird population. Keep feeding your feathered friends, but please make sure to clean all your feeders, bird baths, and regular perching spots regularly. Prevention is much better than seeing diseased or dead birds, and it doesn’t take long to do (unless you have loads of feeders!).
How to clean your feeders
Clean your feeders every week or two, and use a veterinary disinfectant.
- Clean the bird feeders outside, wearing gloves, and use equipment used only for this purpose.
- Clear out old food
- Wash in hot soapy water
- Rinse thoroughly
- Spray with veterinary disinfectant (Arkklens or Tamodine-E)
- Air dry completely
- Refill with fresh food
- Wash your hands
- Work cleaning feeders, baths, and perches into your routine, or set reminders.
- Move the feeders around occasionally to reduce build up of droppings and disease in one area.
- Monitor how much food is being taken. Reduce the amount if it takes days to go.
- Feeders, tables, or trays are easier to clean than the ground.
- Food should not be on the ground overnight.
- Don’t allow droppings and mouldy food to accumulate.
- In the summer food can go off quicker. In the winter soggy and mouldy food should be watched out for.
- Have several feeding sites in your garden so all the birds aren’t in one place.
If you see sick or deceased wildlife you can report it on the Garden wildlife health website
I have seen it advised that if you see diseased birds in your garden, stop feeding them for at least a week.
To learn about Trichomonosis, Avian pox, Salmonella, and other bird diseases, check out the RSPB Garden bird disease guide.
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