The Central Oregon winter is still here, but spring is coming. And with spring comes spring cleaning.
If you want to put up a bird feeder this next season, it might be more maintenance that you realize.
“We usually recommend cleaning bird feeders all year round once a week at least,” said Think Wild wildlife technician Savanna Scheiner.
Having feeders up are a great food source for local birds, according to Scheiner, but they can become deadly if they are not properly cleaned.
“Just doing a bleach soak, we usually recommend 10% bleach solution,” said Scheiner. “Just soaking your items in there for at least 10 minutes.”
Rinsing out all of the bleach solution is a must. The bleach clears the feeders of potential diseases.
“Just because they congregate there, there’s a lot more chance of sickness — a higher chance of sickness,” said Scheiner. “So they’ll get conjunctivitis or salmonella just because that’s where they’re dedicating so their feces will go into the food or the water and that’s how it spreads to the other birds.”
Song birds are impacted more than others. This is because they are more communal.
Other birds, like raptors, eat live prey and do not gather at feeders.
If you start finding sick or dead birds in your yard, Think Wild recommends taking the bird feeders down for at least two weeks before putting them back up.
An alternative to a bird feeder that you do not have to clean is a pollinator garden. These contain local plants that birds can feed on.
Think Wild can also try to assist a sick bird if they are called to a residence.