The Seed SaverWhen bringing bird feeders to the outdoors from your garage or shed, don’t forget to clean them first. You can attract more birds and keep them healthy by cleaning feeders regularly. Bacteria, mold or germs from an infected bird can collect and deposit on surfaces. This contaminates fresh seed and creates unhealthy conditions that may cause disease outbreak to nesting bird populations.

What to use

~Rubber glovesto protect health and ensure safety always use gloves preferably Industrial rubber gloveindustrial brand

~Stiff brush or scouring surface – find them at your local pet supply store or use a designated toothbrush and scouring pad

~Birdfeeder cleaning agent – Consider eco-friendly cleaners that are soy-based and biodegradable

~Pressure hose – high pressure water cleaning can remove film and guano

How to use it

Clean all parts of the feeder both inside and outside – platforms, perches, tubes, ports and ledges. You can purchase commercial birdfeeder cleaners and brushes. However, rubber gloves, an old toothbrush and a solution of one-part bleach to nine-part water works well, too. Make enough solution to immerse a feeder and soak for several minutes. Rinse thoroughly for at least 10 to 12 seconds in clear water. Dry thoroughly outdoors in the sun to prevent residual moisture from contaminating fresh seed. For high-traffic bird feeders you may want to repeat this process more often.

Keep feeding area clean

Areas around bird feederKeep bird baths clean and situate them away from seed feeders in a shady area to prevent algae growth. At least twice per week, dump stagnant bird bath water before refilling it with fresh water.  The National Audubon Society actually recommends this process daily to prevent parasitic disease such as Trichomoniasis, which is mainly spread by pigeons and doves, but can affect domestic birds, hawks and other raptors.

Clean bird baths regularly with a one-to-nine bleach/water solution and use a pressure hose to rinse thoroughly. You can purchase commercial cleaners and enzymes to break down organic contaminant deposits. Real Simple recommends placing a few (pre-1982) copper pennies in the bottom of the bird bath to inhibit algae growth.

Other tips

Besides proper cleaning techniques, be sure to place your bird feeder away from areas where domestic pets may dwell outdoors. This may mean not having feeders as close to your windows but you can purchase a bird cam to watch birds instead.

If landscape mulch or stones are near the feeder, replace soiled materials and remove dropped seed and hulls regularly to prevent rodent problems.Keep the area around bird feeders clean by removing old or damp seed on the ground around feeders. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology recommends that you examine feeders for rough edges that could scrape or scratch birds that might cause infection. Remember to store birdseed in a cool location in airtight containers. Distribute smaller amounts of seed in damp weather and replace more frequently so seed doesn’t mold.

Communicate and act early

If you notice sick or dead birds near your feeder, check your seed supply for mold or contamination. Repeat feeder and birdbath cleaning more frequently. Let your birding neighbors know because disease can spread quickly from feeder to feeder.

CA Powers