Prevent Disease

The Importance of Cleaning Your Birdfeeder


Photo by Forest Simon on Unsplash

For some backyard birds, bird feeders are the primary source of food in the winter. Unfortunately, these same bird feeders can also be a threat to the birds because of possible contamination by bacteria such as various Salmonella species and protozoan parasites such as Trichomonas species.

Fortunately, these problems are preventable with some simple maintenance. The National Audubon Society recommends that birdfeeders be cleaned at least once a month.

So what is the best way to clean your backyard birdfeeders? Well, that is exactly what researchers at Kutztown University decided to study.

The researchers tested three cleaning methods:

  • scrubbing feeders with soap and water
  • soaking feeders in a diluted bleach solution for ten minutes
  • scrubbing them with soap and water followed by a soak in a bleach solution.

The researchers found that all three cleaning methods reduced the amount of Salmonella on the feeders; however, the two methods that involved a bleach soak were more effective in reducing Salmonella bacteria than simply scrubbing with soap and water.

The researchers also found that the feeders cleaned only with soap and water had enough bacteria remaining to risk disease transmission.

So, at minimum, when you clean your feeders you should

  • soak or scrub them with a diluted bleach solution
  • rinse them thoroughly
  • let them dry before adding bird feed

Remember that prevention is the key to avoiding the spread of disease and that you should regularly clean your feeders even when there are no signs of disease.

Interested in a new bird feeder? Check out our expanded Backyard Bird Section upstairs at Braxton’s.

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