How to Clean a Bird Feeder to Prevent the Spread of Disease

How to Clean a Bird Feeder to Prevent the Spread of Disease

Bird feeders frequently attract a diverse range of birds to your garden, and some of these birds may carry diseases that could make other birds ill. The various birds that visit your feeders might spread diseases such as avian pox, salmonellosis, and mycoplasmosis, which are all contagious diseases. Even though these diseases appear to be life-threatening, they can be easily avoided by periodically cleaning your bird feeders.

As beautiful as birds can be, they are also the most prolific carriers of various diseases. Since these birds are traveling from various regions to feast, what they may be bringing is unknown. Even under ideal circumstances, the feeder will be exposed to the elements. This implies that moisture from rain or cold can accumulate on the feeder, resulting in mold growth. When you refill the feeder, that mold can be toxic to touch or breathe in, creating a genuine hazard that you were unaware could become an issue.

These diseases can be hazardous to other birds and humans, depending on the disease they are carrying. Maintaining clean feeders protects you and prevents birds from establishing a petri dish in your yard.

Most Common Diseases Found in Dirty Bird Feeders

Typically, bird infections are lethal to our avian eye candy. There are a few frequent diseases that cause death in birds but are entirely avoidable. A few minutes each week can make a significant difference for a large number of birds.

  1. House Finch eye disease (also known as Mycoplasmal conjunctivitis) causes red, swollen, runny, or crusty eyes in birds.
  2. Salmonellosis can result in an upset stomach, diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain, and cramps.
  3. Aspergillosis: Aspergillosis is a mold infection (fungus). The infections caused by aspergillosis typically affect the respiratory system.
  4. Avian pox: Avian pox, caused by a pox virus, is one of the earliest recognized infectious diseases in birds. There are numerous strains of avian pox virus; however, the majority are species-specific. However, some strains are capable of infecting birds belonging to different families.

How Frequently You Should Clean a Bird Feeder?

Bird feeders are a surefire way to add color and excitement to a yard, attracting flocks of birds. Maintaining a full feeder rapidly becomes a priority, but it’s just as critical to keep it clean. A filthy bird feeder can actually aid in the development and spread of disease among birds.

How often to clean bird feeders? According to the National Audubon Society, one to two times every month. If you notice indicators of an ill bird, double your cleaning efforts and frequency of cleaning. Additionally, cleaning your bird feeder is a good idea when birdseed has become moist during rainy weather. Wet birdseed is a great breeding environment for molds and fungi that can be harmful to birds. It is a sure sign of moisture if you detect seed clumping, which is the forerunner to bird-harming mold and fungus.

Easy Steps to Clean a Bird Feeder

Are you unsure how to properly clean your bird feeders? Take the guesswork out of the assignment by following these six steps:

1. Empty

Empty the bird feeder. Dump this seed, especially if it’s damp or moldy, into a plastic bag for disposal. Caution while distributing seed in a garden: it may sprout. Also, don’t sprinkle dry seed over grass, expecting birds to consume it. Seed attracts chipmunks, voles, and mice, which attract stray cats, snakes, and hawks (which may prey on the birds at your feeders).

2. Soak

Soak your feeder in hot water with mild soap to remove food leftovers and bird droppings. Boiling water can help this phase. To degrease suet feeders, use a degreasing dish soap. Soak feeders for 15 minutes or longer if soiled. A soak helps dislodge tough seeds caught in the feeder’s bottom. Disassemble feeders before soaking.

3. Scrub

After soaking feeders, scrape all surfaces to remove seed, dirt, and waste. Bottle brushes or tube feeder brushes work well. Feeder brushes are available in lengths ranging from 24 to 36 inches. High-quality bird feeders are available from reputable suppliers. Rinse feeders thoroughly with water after cleansing and inspect for dirt. Repaint and clean until all dirt is gone. On bird feeders, use caution when watering with a vigorous garden hose spray. It can pierce sun-damaged plastic.

4. Disinfect

Disinfect the feeders once they’ve been cleaned. Soak in a 50/50 vinegar/water solution, or a 9:1 water-bleach solution, for 15 minutes. Rinse after disinfection

5. Dry

Let the feeder air dry before refilling. A day or two for tube feeders to dry completely. Make sure the feeder is dry by turning it over. The sun is an easy way to dry bird feeders.

6. Clear Below

Cleaning the area surrounding and under the feeders as they dry. Remove stray seeds or husks. Deterring unwelcome creatures and preventing bird illness outbreaks requires keeping the ground beneath feeders clean. Organisms that can persist in seed remains cause several bird illnesses.

Simple Ways to Clean Wooden Bird Feeders

Cleaning a wooden bird feeder will take no more than twenty minutes, which is crucial because maintaining a regular cleaning schedule is essential to the birds’ health.

1. Disassemble as directed

Disassemble the bird feeder as indicated, or simply remove components by memory. Wooden hanging feeders don’t require much assembly out of the box, so they’re easy to remove. You can lift the lid or roof as far as it will go with the rope or chain, but they are usually not removable.

2. Fill washing liquid bowl

Avoid using too many cleaning products or treatments since other solutions may stain or damage the wood or paint. All you need is a bowl of soapy water and washing liquid, much like washing dishes. If the water gets milder, as it will, you must empty the garden and refill it with hot soapy water. Using lukewarm or cold water would be more difficult.

3. Soak metal or plastic pieces

Hopefully, you’ve already disassembled the wooden bird feeder into all of its parts. Toss them now into the hot soapy water dish. Soak them for at least 10 minutes.

4. Use hard bristles to brush

Cleaning a painted or stained wooden bird feeder requires simply a spritz of hot water on the unfinished interior. However, if a wooden bird feeder is painted inside, too much pressure with a brush might cause paint or stain to run off. Instead, brush it lightly but quickly to avoid paint wear and tear. In this case, the wood is presumably not bare but rather treated with natural or colored preserve to protect it from the elements.

5. Use water on painted surfaces

It’s never a good idea to use a hard or soft brush or scourer on any painted wooden surface. No need for brushes, just a hot soapy water splash on the bird feeder will do.

6. Dispose of soap

Whatever section of the bird feeder you’re cleaning, be sure to rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove soap residue.

7. Reassemble only when dry

After cleaning the wooden bird feeder as best as you can, save the primary feeder for last. When it is time to dry it, simply hang the bird feeder back up on its bracket to dry in the garden.

8. Safety

Cleaning a wooden bird feeder poses several risks, including the possibility of disease transmission. So, first, safety by always wearing gloves, but never in a way that simply distributes bacteria. Carefully clean the bird feeder and cleaning equipment only. It is also recommended to use goggles or eye protection to avoid splashing. Wash your hands thoroughly at a nearby outdoor tap or indoor basin, avoiding the kitchen taps.

Tips to Remember While Cleaning Bird Feeders With Bleach and Vinegar

Consistent birders clean their feeders regularly to limit the risk of disease and other concerns. Additionally, a clean feeder will attract more wild birds because the seed is more enticing and nutritious when it is fresh and clean.

1. Cleaning with bleach

  • 10 parts hot soapy water to 1 part bleach.
  • This is the most effective option to eliminate mold and bacteria.
  • Use for all feeders except those made of wood.

2. Cleaning with vinegar

  • Combine equal parts vinegar and hot soapy water in a small container to clean bird feeders with vinegar.
  • Bleach is the most effective bacteria-fighting agent for all other feeds. However, if the bleach is used to disinfect a wooden feeder, the scent may stay no matter how often you rinse.
  • If you decide to use the vinegar solution on your other feeders, make sure to soak them for at least an hour to ensure that the vinegar is as effective as possible.

Best Ways to Disinfect Bird Feeders

Bird feeders are a certain way to attract birds to a yard. Keeping the feeder full becomes a concern, but so does keeping it clean. A filthy bird feeder can help incubate and spread diseases. It is critical to keep feeders and the surrounding area clean to prevent the transmission of sickness.

  • Give your seed and suet feeders a thorough cleaning (even more often in hot and humid weather).
  • Remove any remaining seed and throw it away.
  • You should use a 10 percent bleach solution (one-part bleach to nine parts water) with a spray and stiff brush to wipe feeders off.
  • Rinse well with fresh water.
  • Allow feeders to dry completely before re-filling and re-installing them on the wall.

Feeding birds is a good method to ensure that your yard’s avian guests have enough energy to make it through the winter and prepare for migration. Furthermore, it can present an excellent opportunity for animal photography and observation. However, simply setting your feeder and forgetting about it is not enough. You must take care to ensure proper cleanliness and hygiene to ensure a safe environment for the birds as well as yourselves.

Also Read:

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How to Clean a Dishwasher
How to Clean a Vacuum Cleaner

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