Ensuring Healthy Happy Birds
When you refill your feeder, be sure to empty out the remaining bits of seed before pouring in new seed because you do not want to put fresh seed on top of old or damp seed. Old seed can also clump together preventing the free flow of seed. Hulled seeds are more susceptible to becoming soggy since they do not have an outer protective shell. Suet and seeds with shells hold up longer in wet weather, but you still have to keep an eye on your feeders to make sure the food you are offering is fresh. We clean feeders at the store for a $5 suggested donation.
Many backyard birders express powerlessness when they look into their own yard and witness a free roaming cat snatching birds off their bird bath, plucking hummingbirds out of the flower bed, or snatching birds from a seed feeder. People ask us for help, so we surveyed our customers and created a tip sheet with effective ways to deter cats. If outside cats are a real problem we recommend taking down your bird feeders. Cats & birds tipsheet.
The Pine Siskins showed up in large numbers in the winter of 2020/21 and brought with them the salmonella bacteria. Their huge flocks quickly emptied feeders and birds got sick. The solution was to take down feeders and bird baths if sick birds (lethargic birds with puffy bodies) were showing up in the yard. Once the birds migrated away from the valley floor, we advised continued vigilance in keeping feeders clean and dry as bacteria can be passed through feces on feeders and bird baths. We were cleaning many feeders for our customers here at the store to help to be part of the solution.
The removal of infected birds is recommended for combating trichomoniasis in poultry and captive pigeons and in captive collections of wild birds. The focus in both instances is on these birds that harbor virulent strains of the parasite. Elimination of infection from adult birds by drug treatment has also been recommended but not a practical approach for wild birds. Prevention of the build-up of large concentrations of doves at bird feeders (especially platform feeders) and bird baths is recommended to minimize disease transmission in the wild. Stock tanks, livestock feedlots, grain storage facilities and clusters of urban bird feeders should practice disease prevention activities. Although the environmental persistence for T. gallinae is rather limited, contaminated feed is suspected as a significant source of disease transmission. Therefore, fresh feed should be placed in feeders daily, if practical. Platforms and other surfaces where feed may collect, including the area under feeders, should be frequently decontaminated with 10 percent solution of household bleach in water, preferably just prior to placing clean feed in the feeder.