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Feeding the Birds
by Dee Walmsley,
Hearing the birds' song and watching their antics brings joy to the hearts
of many folks during the gloomy interval between winter and spring.
The late winter is easily the worst time, for birds as well as people.
Everyone is tired of winter, listless, and gloomy. Rainy days find humans
warm and cozy in their homes, while birds puff up their feathers and
continue in their normal fashion, foraging for food, come rain or shine.
Feeders are often left empty by vacationing folks seeking sunnier locales,
or forgotten in the rain where they become soaked and moldy. These wet
feeders are breeding grounds for fungus spores that kill birds.
Wooden feeders, unless hung in a dry location, are the worst offenders. The
seed, when wet, mildews and rots, causing aspergillosis which in turn
infects the birds. House finches are susceptible to conjunctivitis, another
respiratory infection thought to be transmitted at unkempt feeders. This
infection is indirectly fatal: birds die of starvation, exposure, or
predation as a result of not being able to see. Salmonella, is a feces
transmitted disease that is picked up at dirty feeders, mainly affecting
pine siskins.. Each year thousand of birds die from these diseases.
By following a few prevention tips, you can decrease the occurrence of
these diseases, and continue to enjoy feeding the birds.
Keep wooden feeders dry [try hanging under eaves]. In wet weather, change
the feeders often, bringing them in the house to dry thoroughly.
Use duroid shingles on feeder- roofs and trays. The shingles will not
absorb the water.
Measure out an amount of seed that will be consumed in one day, this will
keep the seed dry and fresh and eliminate ground clean-up.
Bleach all feeders with a 10% solution each week. Rinse well, dry
completely before refilling.
Use plastic feeders.
Do not mix seed, use separate feeders. This will eliminate the birds
chucking out the seeds they do not want.
Be consistent. The birds rely on you, so don't let the feeders go empty.
Remember, birds are territorial and will return year after year to your
People who feed birds and encourage their presence in backyards, should
provide them with fresh drinking water and a place to take a bath. Some
birds have bath pecking orders while others like to jump in the water
together for a gang soak. What ever species frequents your yard, there are
a few rules to follow;
Keep the water fresh and clean. Once a week, especially in hot weather,
scrub and disinfect the bird bath.
In winter months keep the water from freezing with a heater, available at
nature stores or by changing the water frequently through-out the day.
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