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Photo credit: Don Plumley

Keeping Feeders Clean

Even if you do not see infected birds around your feeders, you can help reduce the spread of disease by regular disinfection

JH_Birds_mom WETA©SusanMarsh.JPG
Photo credit: Susan Marsh
General Feeder Tips

Perch Feeders 
(especially the tube-type) are safer than platform feeders, simply because they are easier to fully disinfect.

Plastic and Metal Feeders 
are safer than wood ones. It is very difficult to effectively clean bacteria from wood - and the older and rougher the wood the more difficult it is.  Plastic platforms can be effectively cleaned. So can metal ones but with the very cold winters we have here, metal platforms can freeze birds' feet, especially if they are even slightly wet.
Ground Feeding Areas 
should be fully cleaned up every week at least. The birds that were most affected by the salmonellosis outbreak seemed to be Evening Grosbeaks, Pine Grosbeaks, Pine Siskins, Common Redpolls, and other finches.  These birds prefer platform and ground feeding to perch feeders.

Northern Flicker Bathing WT_edited_edited.jpg
Photo credit: Wes Timmerman
Tips for Cleaning Your Feeders

Disinfect your feeders every week – twice in summer.

During summer months rake up any seed shells and bird droppings from the feeders and the ground below. 

In winter months shovel fresh snow over the area.
Allow your feeders to empty out at least once per week - then wash them out.

After cleaning, disinfect the feeders by soaking them in a solution of 1 part bleach to 20 parts water (or 1 cup vinegar to 2 cups water) for 15 minutes. Rinse and dry completely before refilling.

Do NOT re-use seed! Always fill feeders with fresh seed.  Compost or dispose of old or moldy seed.

Spread your feeders out – Avoid crowding.

To avoid collisions with windows follow the "the 3/30 rule" — put feeders within 3 feet of windows or more than 30 feet away from them.

Clean birdbaths every other day with a hose or a stiff-bristle brush.

It is very important to apply these routines to ALL your feeders and birdbaths!
People can contract salmonellosis from birds or their droppings. Wear rubber gloves when cleaning feeders and birdbaths and scrub your hands afterward to avoid contamination.

If you’re just going to leave your feeders and baths up and ignore them, then take them down!

For more on keeping feeders clean, see Wild Bird Diseases.

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