Wild Bird Feeder Hygiene - Top 5 Tips on how to keep your bird feeders clean and garden birds healthy.
The success of attracting lots of different birds to your garden and having them all feed from your feeders can be its own downfall. The risk of spreading diseases from bird to bird increase when birds are all feeding from one place. As is always the case, the prevention is always easier and better than the cure.
Most infections come from droppings, and when this is contaminating food the risk of infection increases even further. It is important to remember that the droppings can come from any animal so you must think about other possible sources such as rats and squirrels. Just as food for humans can go ‘off’ so can bird food, this can be another source of disease and infection as the microbes that thrive on such food can be harmful to other living creatures.
There are a few simple rules that you can follow to ensure you encourage a plentiful and healthy wild bird population.
- Ensure the plates are clean – it is important to clean and wash your feeders and tables regularly. This can be done using warm water with a weak (5%) disinfectant solution. It is also important to keep tables, trays and surrounding areas clear of old food and droppings as they can be a perfect breeding ground for germs and bacteria.
- Use appropriate equipment – Hanging feeders or bird tables and trays are better as it stops food from collecting on the ground. If you do need to ground feed, a special ground feeding tray is better, as it is easier to keep clean, and less likely to attract rodents
- Ensure your food is fresh / Feed just enough - Make sure that the feed you are putting out is still fresh. It is important that any food put out on a feeding table or tray is gone by the end of the day. The longer the food stays there the more chance there is for it to become contaminated by other birds droppings, and it will possibly attract rodents which again can bring disease. To do this simply monitor how much you give and how much is left every day.
- Provide Fresh Water - Bird droppings can also collect in bird baths and similar containers. It is particularly necessary to clean out and refresh bird baths during the warmer months.
- Hygiene – Keep all of this activity outside if possible, or in an area where you will not be processing any of your own food. Where possible, always wear gloves and use specific utensils for the job, rather than using items out of the kitchen. Always wash your hands when you are finished!