Date: 1/12/21 8:21 am From: William Freedberg <4mrfish...> Subject: [MASSBIRD] Got sick birds? Clean feeders quickly.
Madeleine's thread on sick siskins raises an important point. If you find a sick bird in your yard, please immediately clean your feeders (and birdbaths/artificial perches/etc.) thoroughly with a 1/10 bleach solution. Some experts also recommend taking your feeders down for a couple of weeks, although there is some debate around this online that is worth looking into.
Cleaning feeders regularly (at least monthly) even when birds are healthy is important to prevent salmonella or conjunctivitis outbreaks. Some suggest cleaning weekly during finch irruptions.
The salmonella outbreak in the PNW is a great reminder that big finch irruption years can result in disease outbreaks both among nomadic finches and sedentary local birds. This link has tons of tips specific to different feeder types, and breaks down the nuance behind whether or not to pause feeding during an outbreak. I would note that the idea that "taking feeders down could simply cause birds to move to other feeders, spreading the outbreak further" remains untested, though it seems like an idea worth considering. http://www.nativebirdcare.org/blog/salmonella-feeders
If you pause feeding, don't worry about where your yard birds will find food-- they are pros at this, and will be fine. Think of this as encouraging social distancing!
Cheers, Will Freedberg Belmont, MA <wfreedberg...>