Birds Blog

Why I Clean My Bird Feeders Often — Why You Should Too

Following these 3 Tips will help to keep your bird feeders clean, disease-free, and help to keep your backyard birds healthy and happy.

A few weeks ago I wrote about keeping a clean bird bath (the same goes for bird feeders). Here’s a recap of that post, but in short — I couldn’t maintain it.

In that post I mentioned that I clean my bird feeders each time I refill them. I was asked, “Why so often?” I responded, “House Finch Eye Disease”.

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House Finch with Eye Disease. Image Credit: Animal Perspectives.

House Finch Eye Disease, also known as House Finch Pink-eye, or Mycoplasmal Conjunctivitis, is highly contagious among birds. The bird feeder is an excellent transmission site.

Think about it. A bird sticks its head into the holes of a bird feeder, perches on it, jumps around in it (if it’s loose birdseed), and well, sometime poop is involved — so there you go. Germs galore.

(Note: Not all birds become infected, but many become carriers.)

When I spotted this bird, I knew immediately what to do — I took down and dumped out all of my feeders, cleaned them, and didn’t put them out for at least a week.

After some time had passed, I put the bird feeders back out filled to the brim and ready for action.

Well. Guess what happened. ANOTHER House Finch with eye disease showed up! So, despite having just put out the feeders, I dumped them, cleaned them, and waited another week.

He never came back — RIP House Finch.

Here are a few tips I learned from the experience:

Tip #1: Only Fill Bird Feeders Halfway

Only fill your feeders half way. Why? Because when an infected finch shows up at your bird feeder, you’ll need to toss every last bit of birdseed that was in the feeder. It’s a little annoying when you’ve just refilled them, so only fill them halfway — it’s more economical that way.

Tip #2: Clean Before Each Refill

You wouldn’t lick a plate encrusted with scum, dust, or worse, poop! Would you? Yeah. Me neither!

So, clean your feeders at each refill. You might be thinking, Ugh. That’s too much work! 

Well, if it’s too much work for you, then you need consider the type of feeder you’re using. Try a suet feeder, a platform feeder, or simply use a dish! These three options make it very easy to attract wild birds to your backyard and keep your feeding station clean!

Tip #3: Keep Your Bird-Cleaning Products Separate

I have a small bucked that houses my bottled bleach:water solution (1:9), soap, vinegar, and my scrubbing tools. I keep it where I store my birdseed, so it’s accessible.

Following these 3 Tips will help you keep your bird feeders sparkling clean and keep your backyard visitors healthy!

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