It is definitely good practice to clean your bird feeders on a regular basis, this doesn’t have to be a deep clean on every occasion, remove old debris of food from the base of your feeders on a regular basis to avoid harmful bacteria and mould building up, a deep clean by removing and scrubbing the interior of the feeder and perches can be done less frequent.
All Wild Birds are susceptible to Avian Pox, this is where growths appear around a bird’s, head eyes and/or beak. Trichomoniasis, is another disease where lesions in the throat of the infected bird makes it progressively harder for the bird to swallow its food, Finches, Doves & Pigeons are the species typically affected by this awful condition. These diseases can be more prevalent at this time of year, the latter of these illnesses can be easily transferred around the fledgling period while adult birds are feeding their young, and therefore could be passing on the disease.
The good news is that the recovery of fledgling development and breeding has really picked up after the ‘Beast from the East’ last year which had a devastating effect on nesting birds. Without drastic weather such as this and along with the legislation preventing farmers and landowners from flailing hedges between 1st March and 1st September has really allowed the fledgling population to grow strong and develop.
What can we do to prevent the spread of disease?
Ideally, feeders do need to be properly maintained and cleaned in order to provide the safest feeding experience for your garden birds.
- Keep the base clean - Remove any uneaten food stuck at the base of the feeder between refills, some feeders such as the Ring Pull and Ring Pull Pro’s, the base simple twists off allowing for this easily, if the base of your feeder does not easily remove or you simply do not have the time to do this regularly, you could consider using “Feeder Fresh” these are nontoxic granules which can be placed in the base of your feeder which absorb moisture to avoid mould developing, keeping your feeder free from nasty bacteria.
- Deep Clean - Periodically give your feeders a deep clean, there is no hard and fast rule on how often this needs to be done, if it looks dirty and there is a build-up of dirt around the perches then maybe it is time for a scrub, some feeders such as the Big Easy come to pieces completely within a few seconds, others are a bit more difficult requiring a screwdriver, and some do not take to pieces at all, in this case, you may find a cleaning brush useful which will reach down to the base of the feeder and has a handy mini brush inside the handle for cleaning the perch holes. There are also handy feeder kits such as the Bottle Top Feeder where you simply recycle the dirty bottle and use a new one, which leaves only the small parts of the kit to wash. Thoroughly washing feeders is not a pleasant task, most seeds in Wild Bird Food have a high oil content which causes a build-up of a greasy layer so you will need hot water and a good detergent preferably an environmentally friendly disinfectant such as Safe 4, the same process applies to water drinkers and birdbaths.
- Dry it – as advised by the RSPB It is extremely important to ensure your feeder or birdbath is allowed to completely dry before reusing it, the bacteria which spreads the disease Trichomoniasis is not completely wiped out by washing alone, however it does not survive on a dry surface, therefore allow birdbaths in particular to stay dry for at least an hour, longer if possible before refilling to ensure all traces of this bacteria is killed.
- Have a spare – if you have a busy life and finding time to maintain your feeders is difficult, why not have a spare one! this way you can take down the dirty one and leave it soaking in a bucket of soapy water until you find the time to wash it and prepare it for using when your other feeder becomes dirty.
- Relocation - if possible, relocate your feeders from time to time, this avoids a build-up of bacteria on the ground where ground feeding birds are feeding.
Thank you from us all at Brinvale for taking the time out to read this blog, we are more than happy to hear from you if you have any questions.