Winter is for the Birds

Keeping Bird Feeders Clean

Watching birds in your yard can be fun and rewarding. During various times throughout the year bird feeders play an important role in the well-being of birds. Poor maintenance of feeders can contribute to the incidence of infectious disease and mortality. Proper maintenance of feeders is easy and can prevent issues from developing.

Here are some quick tips on maintaining your bird feeders:

  1. Ensure there is space around your feeders. Hang multiple feeders so all birds get a chance to feed. If birds are pushing each other to get to the food they are too crowded. Crowding can lead to the spread of disease as well as causing stress which makes birds vulnerable to disease.
  2. Clean up food, waste and dropping from around the feeders.
  3. Ensure feeders are safe, no sharp edges or points. Small scratches can get infected by bacteria and viruses causing issues in healthy birds.
  4. Clean and disinfect feeders regularly. Using a 10% bleach solution, dip feeders into warm solution, leave submersed for 2-3 minutes, remove, and air dry.
  5. Use good quality, fresh food. Throw out any wet, moldy or musty smelling food. Disinfect any storage containers or scoops that have been in contact with the spoiled food.
  6. Keep mice and other rodents out of stored food. Mice carry many diseases, including bird diseases.

Winter Feeding

Birds are warm blooded. On cold winter days most birds fluff up their feathers creating air pockets which keeps them warm. To keep up their high metabolic rate birds eat rich, high energy foods and in the winter this becomes even more important. In the winter, providing high calorie and high fat foods is beneficial to birds.

Here are some quick tips for feeding birds this winter.

  1. Place feeder in a location out of the wind. Ideally in a shrub or tree that provides cover from wind, weather and is a safe refuge from predators.
  2. Types of feed that are especially good for winter:
    • Oil Sunflower is a great seed for winter - it has a high fat and protein content
    • Suet is a high energy, pure-fat substance that is a great high energy food
    • Peanuts have high protein and fat levels
  3. Provide a fresh, clean source of water
  4. Provide natural cover - nesting boxes, plant cover. Provides birds with protection from cold wintry weather.

Keep birds safe and enjoy watching them this winter!