Clean feeders and baths regularly to prevent the spread of Salmonella
In the past several months in Northwest and North Central Florida, local outbreaks of a particularly virulent species of the bacteria Salmonella have caused mortality in songbirds, most notably Northern Cardinal. There have been no such reports in Alachua County yet but the pattern suggests that we could be next if this species of Salmonella keeps moving.
It’s time to clean your feeders. Salmonella outbreaks begin when birds and other animals, especially rodents, come into contact with feces. Salmonella can then spread by contact with material other than feces, even feather-to feather contact. While Salmonella outbreaks start by contact with feces, they spread in multiple ways.
Clean feeders and birdbaths frequently. For maximum effect against Salmonella, use a light bleach solution (Ten parts water to one part bleach) and allow the feeder or bath to remain moistened by the solution for 10 minutes. Rinse all surfaces with fresh water and allow to dry
before putting food back in the feeder or water back in the bath.
Spread feeders out away from each other. When a bird defecates at a birdfeeder, it directs the feces out and away from the feeder. So, feces doesn’t end up in the feeder that a bird is using but it can end up on a feeder that is placed near it. Try to establish some distance between feeders especially when one feeder is located underneath another.
Use high quality, fresh seed. Salmonella can proliferate in the seed itself. Feeders filled with junk blends contain a lot of material that either gets cast out on the ground or remains uneaten in the feeder. Old seed will eventually become moldy and stuck in feeders and storage containers. Clean this old seed out and disinfect all surfaces before refilling with high quality, fresh seed.
Use Ecoclean® treated feeders whenever possible. WBU EcoClean products continuously protect themselves against the surface growth of bacteria, mold and other microbes. In cooperation with Agion®, Wild Birds Unlimited has conducted numerous tests on effectiveness of the antimicrobial properties of the materials that go into making our antimicrobial treated bird feeders. These are the best and most advanced feeders available for practicing responsible and conscientious bird feeding in your yard.
Keep squirrels off of feeders. If you haven’t looked into a way of keeping squirrels from climbing up your feeder poles and
getting into the birdseed then it’s time to do that. Squirrels move along the ground and pass through areas where feces are cast. They then climb the pole and hang on birdfeeders passing fecal material to the exact places that birds perch and eat.
Use the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's bird mortality reporting feature to report any dead birds you may observe.