Although regularly cleaning your bird feeders might seem like a hassle, they do get gross after a while, and dirty bird feeders can also become hotbeds of disease. Outbreaks in recent years have caused significant deaths in some bird populations, to the point where some state wildlife organizations have recommended temporarily taking feeders down. It’s wise to periodically check in with your local Department of Fish and Wildlife to see if a similar notice has been posted in your area, especially if you start to notice dead birds in your yard.
“Bird feeders are a high point of contact, so disease can be transferred easily from one bird to another,” said Holly Grant, a project assistant for NestWatch, a citizen science project hosted by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Birds Canada. “If you keep your feeder clean, it can help reduce the chance at spreading disease further.”
Whether your bird feeders hold seed, suet cakes for winter feeding, or sweet nectar for hummingbirds, here’s everything you need to know to keep them clean.