Food Safety for Birds

Field Guides for Birders

Remember to keep your bird feeders clean, especially in humid summer weather, so that they are free of disease-causing bacteria. A dirty bird feeder is, in a way, ironic; an easy meal is offered, but the bird may get sick in the process of using it. With a little diligent effort, food can be safely provided to our feathered friends.

Space your feeders widely; overcrowding is one way disease can be spread. To thoroughly clean your feeders, use a 10 percent bleach solution of 1-part bleach and 9-parts water. Be sure to remove any buildup around the openings. Allow your feeders to dry completely before filling and hanging them. Also, be sure to rake areas underneath your bird feeders and remove droppings and old seed—this will help prevent the growth of dangerous mold.

Diseased birds are easy to spot when using binoculars. If you see one or more diseased birds, you should take your feeders down immediately and clean them with the same 10 percent bleach solution.