Cleaning Bird Feeders

Blog #24


While it is nice to have bird feeders in your garden, it is important to remember that these need to be maintained to prevent the transmission of bird diseases such as Trichomonosis (canker), avian pox, and salmonella. Following an outbreak of Trichomonosis in birds visiting my garden last year, I wanted to write a blog informing people why it’s so important to clean bird feeders.

Bird diseases can be caused by a range of microorganisms including bacteria, viruses and protozoa (in the case of Trichomonosis) which are not directly visible to the naked eye.  However, transmission of disease will usually be caused by contact with another infected bird, with food material regurgitated by an infected bird, contact with bird droppings or by contact with an area contaminated by an infected bird.  Although bird feeders offer birds an easy source of food because they are visited by large numbers of birds they can also be a ‘hotspot’ for passing diseases between birds

Once again has sent me a few products including a bird feeder, cleaning brush, bird seed and pet safe disinfectant helping me to clearly illustrate the steps involved in this blog and show some of the impact/dirt build up (inside and outside the feeder)! I filled up the feeder and allowed it to get dirty through normal use over 1 week. Since my garden is regularly visited by a range of birds I topped up the feeder every second day during this trial. After a week’s use there was some residue build up inside the feeder and in particular around the feeding holes. 


All the items I was kindly sent by Haith’s


The following guide outlines the steps that should be followed when cleaning your feeders, which should be weekly, especially during busy feeding times.

Step by step guide

Step 1: gather the feeder/s, a bucket, and the cleaning products and put on some protective gloves.


Step 2: rinse the feeder/s with warm soapy water over the bucket to get rid of any loose dirt and any seed residue.

Feeder rinsed with warm soapy water


Step 3: use the pet safe disinfectant (over the bucket) by spraying some inside and outside the feeder/s and then use the brush to scrub. The cleaning brush was used to get inside the feeder and the spray was used to disinfect the feeder killing off any microorganisms which could harm the birds. The cleaning brush even had a small removable section which comes in useful for getting into trickier/smaller parts of the feeder.


Step 4: rinse the feeders with water over the bucket and use a cloth to dry as much water as possible then let the feeder/s dry in heat or outside.


Step 5: once all dry, fill your feeder/s and put back!


If you do notice infected birds visiting your feeder(s) then it is safest to remove all feeders for a couple of weeks or so (cleaning thoroughly as described above) before replacing.  This will reduce the chance of spreading disease to other birds. However, regular cleaning of your feeders should prevent any problems occurring in the first place.

Author: Michael Sinclair

My name is Michael Sinclair and I’m a young naturalist from Glasgow although I can be seen all over the place doing crazy things.

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