Winter is a good time to feed the birds…. They can use a bit of extra nourishment during these snowy and cold days when food can be hard to find. Feeders bring many birds together, which, as a birdwatcher, is great because it is an opportunity to see so many species of birds in one place.
Unfortunately, it also means that if just one bird is sick, that many will potentially be infected as well. With human Covid numbers rising, we should be pretty good at understanding the risks that large gatherings can cause, even in our local bird populations.
No one who takes the time to feed the birds wants to discover dead birds under or near their feeders. But that is exactly what happens when there is a disease that is being passed among the local birds at the feeders.
We have been hearing about a few outbreaks of Salmonella in Saskatoon and other parts of the province. However, winter often sees outbreaks of Conjunctivitis as well, which is an eye infection that leaves the birds unable to fly or find food, resulting in death. Our beautiful House Finches are particularly susceptible to Conjunctivitis.
What can you do to STOP the spread of these diseases? CLEAN YOUR FEEDERS!
This means taking them down on a weekly basis, washing (or soaking) them in disinfectant. The easiest disinfectant is to mix bleach in water to make a 10% bleach solution. RINSE thoroughly, dry them and then they are ready to be refilled and placed back outside for the birds to find.
This simple task is incredibly effective in stopping the transmission of diseases between your bird flocks.
***If you notice birds at your feeder exhibiting symptoms, please call us and report the situation. If there are ill birds that you can catch, we will treat them for the illness if possible.
You may want to ensure neighbours disinfect their feeders as well, and we may recommend you remove them for a week to disperse the birds until the disease has run its course.
Thank you to all who support LSWR and our wild neighbours!