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Best bird feeding hygiene

Monday 27 November 2017, 11:32 AM

Get enough bird food in your garden, and you’ll have plenty of beaks happily pecking away. But the more that do, the greater the risk of diseases spreading. Birds such as greenfinches and house sparrows are particularly vulnerable as they feed in flocks. So what can you do to help?

Go for a feeder

It may seem a bit silly to suggest that you only feed birds from a feeder, after all they’re a wild animal, and would probably do quite well without us. But many birds now rely on our help with some birds, just like Darwin’s finches, evolving longer beaks to access feeders.

By feeding birds off the floor, or off surfaces such as a wall or tabletop, you not only give yourself more work in terms of cleaning, but the uneaten food can quickly become a veritable feast for vermin such as mice and rats. And with those pests, comes disease.

So keep your bird food up high in a feeder, or use a bird table. Both are easier to clean, and keep unwanted visitors at bay.

Keeping it clean

Here are five really important things to remember when it comes to bird feeding hygiene.

  1. Water containers should be cleaned regularly to make sure droppings don’t build up. In the summer months, change the water daily.
  2. Unless you want to create your very own parasite and bacteria kitchen, keep the surrounding area clean and free from droppings. If droppings have accumulated, it is important to disinfect the area, and if need be, burn the droppings away. Something like a weed-burner will do the trick.
  3. Make sure to get the scrubbing brush out on your feeders and tables on a regular basis; you may want to use a small amount of disinfectant, or specific bird feeder cleaning products. Just make sure you wash all chemical traces away when you are done.
  4. Move your feeders if possible. This cuts down on dropping accumulation, which in turn, means less chance of disease.
  5. Don't forget about little old you! Do all the cleaning outside, wear gloves at all times and wash your hands when you’re done too. We don’t want you getting sick now do we?

Happy tip

Keep an eye on how much food is left after you’ve put it out. If there’s loads left, cut down on how much you’re giving them. Leftover food can be a harbinger for disease.

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