How to
Keep Bird Feeders Clean

We all love to see birds visit our gardens, but when large numbers of birds feed
from the feeders and bird tables that we provide, the risk of disease inevitably increases.
Therefore, prevention is a key factor when reducing the spread of diseases.

What causes disease to spread amongst wild garden birds?

The most likely place for diseases to spread amongst the birds in your garden is at feeders and feeding stations. Disease can be transmitted through the birds’ saliva, but the majority of diseases are transmitted by bird droppings.

If contaminated, droppings can mix in with the food causing bacteria and fungal spores to develop. Unfortunately, this is how the birds can pick up infections and diseases such as Avion pox, Salmonella and growths on legs to name a few.

Therefore, to minimise and prevent the spread of diseases, it’s important to clean your feeders, feeding stations and bird tables every 2 weeks

What you’ll need to clean your bird feeder:

Rubber gloves

Bottle brush/Bird feeder cleaning brush

Mild detergent/Washing up liquid

Bucket of warm water to dilute the detergent

How to clean your Bird Feeder

Step 1.

Always clean your bird feeders outside and not indoors.

Step 2.

Make sure you that you always wear rubber gloves when interacting with bird feeders, as some diseases can affect humans too.

Step 3.

Fill a bucket with hot water and pour in mild disinfectant (5% solution) to dilute.

Step 4.

Use separate cleaning brushes that aren’t used for any other purpose.

Step 5.

Empty the contents of the feeder and dispose of it. It’s important that you don’t re-use the food or compost it, as it could contain harmful bacteria.

Step 6.

With the mild diluted disinfectant and a cleaning brush, thoroughly scrub the feeder inside and out to remove any residual food and droppings.

Step 7.

Rinse the feeder with cold water from your outside tap and leave the feeder to stand and air-dry before use.

Step 8.

Once dry, refill your feeder with bird food.

Tips for reducing the risk of diseases spreading amongst wild birds

Here are a few simple steps that you can make to reduce the risk of spreading diseases and to help keep the garden birds happy and healthy:

  • It’s important to monitor the bird food that you’re putting out. If it’s taking a few days to be eaten, reduce the amount to prevent it from going mouldy.
  • Use several feeding stations around your garden to reduce the number of birds feeding in one place. This will also help to minimise the build-up of droppings on the ground.
  • If you plan on using a feeding table, ensure it’s regularly kept clean and is free from droppings or mouldy food that can cause bacteria to build up.
  • Use a ground feeding tray if you prefer to place food on the ground as this will be easier to keep clean.
  • To prevent the bird food from being contaminated by droppings, avoid putting feeders under garden features where birds may perch or roost on.
  • If you’re in the process of looking for a new bird feeder, choose a durable one that is easy to clean.