5 ways to minimise the spread of disease among garden birds

Clean feeders make for healthy and happy birds. With birds hopping from one feeding post to the next, it’s hard to keep track and stop the spread of disease among our feathered friends. Some of the most common infections include:

The good news is there are some simple ways to prevent diseases, such as these listed above, from spreading any further.

Keeping feeders clean is a vital part of the bird feeding process. Birds can be become infected and spread diseases from perch-to-perch and feeder-to-feeder across the gardens they regularly visit. Some birds, like greenfinches, are more susceptible to certain kinds of disease, such as Trichomonosis. This disease affects the throat, so birds may be seen drooling, regurgitating food and have a swollen neck. This illness has led to a significant amount of greenfinches being wiped out in the last 25 years.

It isn’t always simple to spot the symptoms of these illnesses until it’s too late and unfortunately it’s not possible to give medication to birds in the wild. Not only is it difficult to provide the correct dosage, but medicines that work for some birds may be harmful to other types.

So how can you help stop diseases from spreading? Read out five-point guide on what you can do for your feathered garden guests.

1. Clean your feeders

This is essential for preventing disease amongst our feathered friends. It’s best to use a specialist sanitising fluid as well as a cleaning brush, like the Droll Yankees Cleaning Brush, for getting into those hard-to-reach nooks and crannies of your feeders. Some bird lovers don’t recognise that they need to clean their feeders regularly. Although it may seem like a task you can skip every now and again, unhygienic feeders can be fatal for our garden birds.

With your cleaning solution, wipe sills, the inside of feeders and make sure any excrement is removed.

You can shop our range of bird hygiene and cleaning products by clicking here.

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2. Spread out your feeders

Avoid the crowds! Spacing out the feeders in your garden means that birds will not all surge into a single place. Fewer bird congregations mean that disease and fatal infections spread through saliva will not spread so easily. Feeders placed at different heights and distances mimics how birds naturally feed in the wild.

3. Inspect your bird food supply carefully

Keep an eye out for mould, mildew or spoilage in your feed. Mould can be fatal for birds as it may contain poisonous toxins leading to salmonella. Wipe up any old or mouldy food you see on bird tables or in feeders as soon as possible to avoid contamination. You can store your bird food in proper storage containers to provide air-tight protection against moisture (and even thieving squirrels).

4. Dispose of any dead birds

It is important that any dead birds left in your garden are disposed of immediately. This prevents cats and vermin from consuming the dead body and spreading disease. Official RSPB guidelines advise burying the dead bird or double wrapping and throwing it in the bin with your usual rubbish. Be sure you wear protective gloves before handling dead birds.

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5. Contact the relevant authorities

If you have noticed any unusual symptoms and suspect your garden birds of being infected by any potentially deadly diseases, don’t hesitate to contact the relevant authorities for advice*.

RSPCA: 0300 123 4999

The Institute of Zoology: 0207 449 6685

*please note the RSPB is a charity only and will not be able to help with any injured or ill garden birds.

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