Bird feeding is becoming a very popular winter activity for people of all ages. The fascinating world of birds is soon discovered when people place a feeding station near their home. However, the good intentions of some bird-lovers can lead to harmful effects on local songbirds. Rita Dixon, Idaho Department of Fish and Game Nongame Biologist says that diseases, such as Salmonella and Avian Pox, are easily spread when birds are crowded at dirty feeders and watering devices. However, a few simple steps can reduce the spread of disease. "Simply disinfecting feeders and baths with a bleach solution each month significantly reduces the spread of many diseases," said Dixon. Using bird feeders that force the birds to perch and reach for food, keeping the food clean can also reduce disease outbreaks. Open trays of food where birds hop around are easily contaminated by fecal material. Watering devises are also potential incubators of disease. Again, a devise where the birds cannot bathe or perch with their tails over the water can help. The following are additional suggestions for safe bird feeding.
- Clean and disinfect feeders and baths every month. Clean with warm, soapy water. Immerse in one part bleach to nine parts warm water for two or three minutes. Air dry.
- Avoid crowding at feeders by providing increased feeder space.
- Keep feeder and surrounding area clean of waste food and droppings.
- Provide safe feeders. Sharp edges or points can scratch birds, inviting infection.
- Throw away any musty, wet, moldy feed. Disinfect containers or scoops that have been in contact with bad food.
- Make bird feed storage containers rodent proof.
- Dispose of any dead bird as soon as possible.