Keep birds healthy by cleaning feeders regularly

Moldy birdseed and unclean bird feeders can cause birds to become sick. In wet weather, it is common for mold or bacteria to form on wet birdseed either in the feeder or on the ground. Mold can cause fatal avian diseases.

2008 Minnesota State Parks Calendar cover

Common male redpoll

Rake or sweep up fallen seeds and seed hulls under feeders to prevent bacteria from occurring on the ground.

Follow these tips to minimize the threat of disease:

  • Clean a bird feeder, use a solution of two ounces of bleach with one gallon of water and scrub the entire surface.
  • Allow the cleaned feeder to dry out in the sun; sunlight will help kill bacteria on the feeder.
  • Hummingbird feeders should be cleaned about every week to ten days during the summer.
  • Keep the feed dry by using a hopper-type or a fly-through feeder and always scrape out old seed that has accumulated.
  • To kill unwanted bacteria around bird feeding stations: Clean up all old seed and hulls on the ground under the feeders, then sprinkle lime on the ground about 1/4 deep, which may harm grass but will kill the bacteria. Keep pets away from the area for a few days. Lime can be purchased at any farm and garden store.
  • It is also advisable to move the feeder to a different part of the yard if sick or dying birds are present..