Why Bird Lovers Sometimes Take Down Feeders

Periodically throughout the year, you sometimes see a media article saying something like, “Scientists Are Asking Californians To Take Down Their Bird Feeders.”

This isn’t a call to leave nature to nature, or that you should never feed birds. What it means is that there is something going on in that area, usually a disease, that makes it unsafe for the birds to gather in large numbers.

In April 2022, a devastating avian influenza outbreak caused many song bird populations to suffer. The disease was easily spread through bird feeders, where a sick bird might land to feed, spreading it to healthy birds who fed at the same feeder.

Over the past few years, many different diseases have struck songbird populations, and each time scientists ask bird lovers to take down their feeders and wait until the disease is no longer present to put them back up again.

Other ways to keep birds safe

Although we outright take down feeders when there is a major illness outbreak, you can help prevent disease from spreading through regularly cleaning your feeders. Wash your feeder regularly, including up to a 10% bleach solution, to kill any germs before hanging the feeder again.

If food in your bird feeder ever looks moldy or seems to have gone off, throw it out and start fresh. Clean, safe bird food is the best choice for birds.

When is it safe to put feeders back?

You don’t have to rely on a passing news article to find out when it’s safe to put your bird feeders back. Check in with your local Audubon chapter to get the latest news. Most Audubon chapters have a mailing list at the minimum, and some offer other bird related alerts to help you enjoy the wild birds more.

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