By -Georgia Lund-
A bird feeder placed in the right location and kept full brings pleasure to both the bird and bird watcher. However, if the feeder is not properly cleaned and cared for it can harbor diseases that eating birds will contact which will cause them more harm than good. Use these care and maintenance tips to prevent hungry birds from catching the easily transmitted diseases like trichomoniasis, salmonellosis, aspergillosis and avian pox.
Feeders should be emptied and washed every two weeks. Remove all old seed and wash feeder by hand in warm soapy water. Rinse thoroughly. If feeder has visible black mold (which can occur during rainy weather) mix 1 part liquid chlorine bleach to nine parts warm water and soak the feeder for 10 minutes, then wash with soapy water and rinse.
A baby bottle brush comes in handy for washing the hard-to-reach places. Wear rubber gloves and wash hand thoroughly after cleaning the bird feeders.
Only put as much seed in the feeder as birds will eat in 2 days. If too much seed is placed in the feeder, it can become moist and sprout and create an environment that promotes bacterial growth. Moldy or decaying seeds can make birds sick, by placing small portions in the feeder, the seeds are always fresh, and there is less risk of disease.
Store un-used seed in a cool, dry place in an airtight container until needed.
Brush seed hulls from the platform of the bird feeder each day. Clear the ground around the feeder too. Unwanted squirrels and mice are attracted by seeds that fall to the ground, and bird droppings can spread infectious bird diseases. Sweep or rake away fallen seed hulls and bird droppings daily and dispose of appropriately.
Hummingbird feeders are cleaned and maintained slightly different than seed feeders. Change nectar substitute twice a week during the heat of summer to prevent mold and fermentation. Wash feeders once a week with a mixture of 1 part white vinegar to 4 parts water. If hummingbird feeder is very dirty, add a teaspoon of uncooked rice to the vinegar solution and shake vigorously.
Rinse thoroughly and allow to air dry before re-filling with nectar substitute. Only place as much liquid food in the feeder as the hummingbirds will drink in 2-3 days to prevent disease and make cleaning easier.
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