Feeding birds in the winter is a lot of fun, but it can also cause diseases to spread quickly among wild birds, which is why the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department says it is important to clean your birdfeeders regularly.
Bacteria and fungi can cause diseases such as aspergillosis, salmonella and conjunctivitis. Species commonly affected by bird feeder diseases are redpolls, pine siskins, goldfinches, sparrows, and cardinals.
All feeders should be thoroughly cleaned on a monthly basis. A solution of one part bleach to nine parts hot water is recommended to kill bacteria. Hot water with unscented dish detergent also does an excellent job. Wear rubber gloves to avoid any contamination. Be sure to clean inside and outside surfaces. Bottle brushes work well in tube feeders.
It is very important to thoroughly rinse and dry your feeder to prevent residual chlorine from being ingested by birds. Then, dry the feeders well before filling them again. Any remaining moisture could lead to mold and mildew that can cause rotten, unhealthy seed.
Also, take time to remove seed and droppings in nearby areas where birds congregate. Birds can spill seed and leave debris several feet away from feeders.
Clean birdfeeders and feeding areas will attract more birds and keep them healthier for birders to enjoy.