Keep birds healthy, clean feeders regularly

Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is encouraging people with bird feeders to take several steps this summer to keep birds healthy. "Moldy birdseed and unclean bird feeders can cause birds to become sick," said Carol Henderson, DNR Nongame wildlife program supervisor. "In hot or humid weather, it is common for mold to form on wet birdseed. Mold can cause a fatal avian disease called aspergillosis, which affects the birds respiratory systems." Henderson said people should also rake or sweep up fallen seeds and seed hulls under feeders to prevent mold from occurring on the ground. He offered the following additional tips to minimize the threat of disease: • To clean a bird feeder, use a solution of two ounces of bleach with 1 gallon of water and scrub the entire surface. • Allow the cleaned feeder to dry out in the sun, sunlight will help kill bacteria on the feeder. • Hummingbird feeders should be cleaned about every week to 10 days during the summer. • Keep the feed dry by using a hopper-type or a fly-through feeder and always scrape out old seed that has accumulated. More information on attracting and feeding birds is available in "Wild about Birds: The DNR Bird Feeding Guide" and in "Landscaping for Wildlife." Both books are for sale at Minnesota's Bookstore at or toll-free (800) 657-3757. The production of these books was made possible by donations to the Nongame Wildlife Fund on state income and property tax forms.