Sunday, April 20, 2008

Please clean those feeders!

Just get a big tub (don't clean feeders in your kitchen sink), some liquid soap, a couple brushes, some rubber gloves and a cup or so of bleach (or vinegar). What you can do: from National Wildlife.

What to do when you have sick birds at your feeders. Even when your birds look healthy, please clean your feeders regularly; once per month, year round. Fungus caused by mold in food or water will cause fatal respiratory illnesses. Discard seed that has become wet or moldy. Clean humingbird feeders every three to four days...same with bird-baths.

This is House Finch Disease...directions on how to report it here. Keep your feeders clean!

What else can you do...and help science, too?

This is Avain Pox, it is spread by direct contact, dirty feeders and infected water. If you find such birds at your feeders...please clean them regularly!
Sometimes sick birds just look cold; puffed up, lethargic and easy to approach..they often act like they have a cold, too, with swollen eyelids and lots of sneezing. These birds might have Salmonellosis, a bacteria infection that might be passed to pets; cats who eat the birds as well as the people who handle them.

Keeping the birds safe is really pretty easy. If you're like me and have multiple feeders, rotate your cleaning schedule to keep a potentially huge job, simple. No chemicals are necessary; just brush out debris and soak for a couple minutes in some bleach-water. Vinegar in water works for wood feeders. Spread the word!

It is a fallacy that once you begin feeding wild birds, you can't quit. Of course you has shown they only take about 25% of their daily intake from feeders; if yours are empty (or missing), they'll just dine down the street.

Two things I do to mitigate feed loss: add sand or dry, uncooked rice to the bottom of a feeder, to bring the level up to the first feeding port. That will help keep the feed dry and will waste a lot less feed when you’re ready to clean. Secondly, I just let the feeders ‘run dry’…yet another reason to ‘rotate feeder-cleaning’…so you’ll always have full feeders to draw your birds in. I like that part.

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