If you feed backyard birds, you need to clean your birdfeeders on a regular basis to prevent the spread of common illnesses and diseases that are transfitted at feeding stations. This shows how to keep your feeders clean and provides suggestions for easy-to-clean feeders that birds enjoy.
Also see How to Choose the Right Birdseed for Backyard Birds for a complete list of seed options and what to avoid.
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Keeping Birdfeeders Safe for Birds
If you love wild birds like I do, you do not want to do anything that negatively affects their health or well-being.
With a variety of birds using feeders, they can transmit illnesses and diseases including avian pox, aspergillosis, salmonella, and trichomoniasis, from one bird to another.
In addition to providing suitable, healthy food, the other responsibility is to routinely clean and disinfect your birdfeeders.
URGENT: If there is a known issue in your local bird population such as trichomoniasis, remove and clean your feeders and birdbaths immediately and wait until local authorities give the go ahead to put them out again.
How To Wash and Disinfect A Birdfeeder
At lease twice a month (and more often if feeders are really active and/or some birds show signs of disease—weakness, unhealthy appearance).
Always wear gloves when handling feeders and old bird seed.
- Empty feeders and submerge in clean water. Use a gentle dish soap or detergent (unscented). Wear rubber gloves and use a baby bottle brush and/or toothbrushes to remove all debris both inside and outside the feeder.
- Immerse feeder in 1 part bleach (5% sodium hypochlorite) and 9 parts water for at least two minutes.
- Rinse thoroughly.
- Air dry.
- Do not fill feeders until completely dry (or mold and mildew may form).
- Add fresh water daily.
- Regularly scrub and disinfect (same as above). Rinse thoroughly.
- Remember, birdbaths should be shallow (less than 1″ of water)—not deep—and provide secure places for the birds to stand.
General Bird Feeding Care
1. Put out small amount of food rather than masses of seed, to prevent mold and rot.
2. Clean up any birdseed debris daily from the ground and feeders. Old hulls and seeds can carry pathogens. Place them in your garbage, not the compost pile.
3. If feeders or birdbaths are croweded, consider adding additional stations, allowing greater distance between the birds, and better security for the little birds.
4. While feeding stations are good out in the open (predator alert), birds do need branches to sit on while waiting for their turn to eat.
5. Everything you put in your garden affects the life of the garden. Garden organically, avoiding any sprays, poisons, or toxins that can negatively affect living things, and avoid gas-powered yard tools.
6. Find a reliable birdseed supplier (local, independent can be great resources) and use these tips to find the best birdseed and other treats (coming soon).
7. Never feed birds or wildlife things like baked goods or other human prepared foods.
8. Clean and disinfect your birdfeeders, birdbaths, and perching spots regularly to promote bird health.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛
- Common Bird Parasites and Diseases | massaudubon.org
- How to Keep Birdfeeders Clean | Canadian Wildlife Federation