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keep bird feeders clean

Keeping Bird Feeders Clean

We all love it when wild birds visit our gardens, but when a large number use the feeding areas we provide, the risk of disease inevitably increases.

To stop the spread of diseases, prevention is key. With a few simple actions, you’ll be helping the UK’s wild bird population stay happy and healthy

What causes disease to spread among wild birds?

The most likely place in a garden for diseases to spread to birds is at feeding stations. This can happen through the birds’ saliva, but the majority of diseases are transmitted by bird droppings. If contaminated droppings mix with the food you’ve put out, then, unfortunately, the birds can pick up infections.

Tips for reducing the risk of diseases spreading 

  • Monitor the amount of food you’re putting out. If it’s taking days to be eaten, reduce the amount to prevent it from going mouldy
  • To reduce the number of birds feeding in one place, use several feeding stations – this will also prevent the build-up of droppings on the ground
  • If you plan on using a feeding table, ensure it’s kept clean and free from droppings or mouldy food (as well as the surrounding area)
  • Use a ground feeding tray if you prefer to place food on the ground as this will be easier to keep clean – remember to remove any leftover food before nightfall to prevent rats
  • To prevent contamination through droppings, avoid putting feeders under garden features where birds may perch or roost.

If you’re in the process of looking for a new bird feeder, choose one that’s durable as well as being easy to take apart and put back together.

How to keep a Bird Feeder clean

Clean and wash your bird table or hanging feeders every 2 weeks.

  • Don’t clean bird feeders indoors – clean them outside and use separate brushes that aren’t used for any other purpose
  • Always wear rubber gloves when interacting with feeders, as some diseases can affect humans too
  • Empty the contents of the feeder and dispose of it
  • Fill a bucket with hot water and scrub the feeder inside and out with a mild disinfectant (5% solution) and a cleaning brush
  • Rinse the feeder with cold water from your outside tap and let it air-dry before using.


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