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8 tips to help keep your bird feeders clean

Lori Schubring
For USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Make sure your birds stay healthy in 2018 and beyond with these eight helpful tips!

1. Avoid crowding by providing ample feeder space. Lots of birds using a single feeder looks wonderful, but crowding is a key factor in spreading disease. If birds have to jostle each other to reach the food, they are crowded. This crowding also creates stress that might make birds more vulnerable to disease.

2. Keep the feeder area clean of waste food and droppings. A broom and shovel can accomplish a lot of good.

Regular care can help prevent the spread of disease at your  bird feeders.

3. Provide safe feeders without sharp points or edges. Even small scratches and cuts will allow bacteria and viruses to enter otherwise healthy birds.

4. Clean and disinfect feeders regularly. Use one part of liquid chlorine household bleach in nine parts of tepid water (a 10 percent solution) to disinfect. Make enough solution to immerse an empty, cleaned feeder completely for two to three minutes. Allow to air dry. Once or twice a month should do, but weekly could help more if you notice sick birds at your feeders.

Birders have an ethical obligation not to jeopardize wild birds and should follow the listed tips.

5. Discard any food that smells musty, is wet, looks moldy or has fungus growing on it. Disinfect any storage container that holds spoiled food and the scoop used to fill feeders from it.

6. Keep rodents out of stored food. Mice can carry and spread some bird diseases without being affected themselves.

7. Don't wait to act until you see sick or dead birds. With good prevention, you'll seldom find sick or dead birds at your feeders.

8. Encourage your neighbors who feed birds to follow the same precautions. Birds normally move among feeders and can spread diseases as they go. Sick birds do show up at feeders, and other birds can get sick as a consequence.

Make sure your birds stay healthy in 2018.

Remember — just because bird feeding is not problem-free does not mean that it is bad or should be stopped. It means you have an ethical obligation not to jeopardize wild birds. What is called for is intelligent bird feeding. Follow the precautions listed above, and you can continue to enjoy feeding healthy wild birds.

If you have any questions about feeding or attracting birds, send us an email at wbuwausau@gmail.com or give us a call at 715-298-3140.

Lori Schubring is the owner of Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop in Rib Mountain.