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West Virginia Wildlife
Cleaning Birdfeeders
Patrick McMurtry Healthy Birds Are Happy Birds

January 9, 2013
Reporter: Patrick McMurtry
Videographer: Brad Rice


We've just finished the coldest temperatures we've seen this winter, and now that the sun's coming out for a little while, we will have the perfect weekend to put up a bird feeder. These little guys need plenty of food to make it through the winter months, and many of us help them out by putting up various types of bird feeders. But no matter what kind you put up, you need to work all winter to make sure it's safe for the birds.

Richard Bailey, a biologist with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, explains the importance of routine cleaning. "One of the most important things anyone can do when feeding birds in their backyard is to keep the feeders clean and sanitary. This helps prevent the spread of common diseases between birds and there are five types of diseases that can spread through bird feeders."

Don't let the threat of disease keep you from putting up a feeder, all you have to do is a little routine maintenance on your feeder and these little guys will be safe. This really is a simple and easy to do task.

"The best thing you can do is clean your feeder every other week. You empty it, clean it with soap and water, then soak it in a 10 percent bleach solution for five minutes, rinse it again, let it air dry, put fresh food in and put it back up." says Bailey.

Ten minutes a week and your feeder will be safe for the birds who will make a habit of visiting your back yard. If something does happen, and you notice something wrong, Bailey has an important piece of advice.

"If you happen to come across a sick bird or you find dead birds beneath your feeder, stop feeding immediately and give the DNR a call so we can test what''s going on with the bird. That's a signal to you that your conditions are not clean and you need to take care of it." says Bailey.

That's it! You see, it really doesn't take much to keep your bird feeder safe, and your song birds healthy, all winter long.

LEARN MORE at the W. Va. DNR


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