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Eastern Kingbird by Mike Benkis

Special Events

Avian flu is back; keep birds healthy with clean feeders

Photo by Mary Clausen

by Lauren Robinson

To ensure your tiny feathered tourists (and, of course, honorable residents) are convening at disease-free feeding zones, you’ll need to make cleaning your feeders a routine occurrence.

Cleaning frequency can differ depending on the type of feeder as well as the weather. Hummingbird feeders need more frequent cleaning, approximately every 3-5 days, sooner if the water begins to look cloudy. Plastic tube feeders with small feeding holes can trap moisture and speed up mold growth, especially with the help of summer heat and rain.

As a general rule, most non-hummingbird feeders need cleaning every couple of weeks. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology recommends either taking the feeder apart and putting it in the dishwasher on a hot setting or hand-washing it with soap and boiling water or with a bleach solution, no more than 1 part bleach to 9 parts water.

Jason St. Sauver, education director at Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center in Denton, Nebraska, says he prefers to use natural ingredients, such as distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, with up to a 1-to-1 vinegar-to-water ratio.

After washing, be sure to rinse the feeder thoroughly and allow it to dry completely.

Wildlife specialists across the country have been working around the clock to deduce the cause of the the illness affecting birds across the U.S.. Still, we encourage you to maintain a watchful eye. If you notice birds in your backyard with swollen or crusty eyes and exhibiting odd behavior, call Nebraska Game and Parks at (402) 471-0641 or Audubon Nebraska at (402) 797-2301.

Photo by Mary Clausen