Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

WDFW: Keep bird feeders down for another month

 

February 25, 2021

Brian Forsyth | Pexels

A wild bird feeds

OLYMPIA - Wild bird feeders should not be put out for another five weeks, advises the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Because of a series of reports of sick or dead birds at backyard feeders across the northwest, the agency tells residents to beware.

"You can help to stop the spread of salmonellosis by discontinuing backyard bird feeding until at least April 1, to encourage birds to disperse and forage naturally," said WDFW veterinarian Dr. Kristin Mansfield.

Earlier, WDFW asked residents to remove or clean feeders in response to a die-of of finches, such as pine siskins and other songbirds, which was blamed on Salmonellosis, a common and often fatal bird disease caused by salmonella bacteria.

Birds may transmit the disease through droppings and saliva when large flocks converge at a feeder.

Discontinued feeding of wild birds is not a threat to leave them without food supplies during the winter and spring.

"Birds use natural food sources year-round, even while also using backyard bird feeders, so they should be fine without the feeders for another month," Mansfield said.

For people who choose to put out bird feeders, WDFW requests they clean them daily, rinsing well with warm, soapy water, then immersing the feeders in nine parts water and one part bleach. Finish by rinsing and drying.

It is possible, although uncommon, for salmonella bacteria to move from birds to humans through direct contact with infected birds, droppings, or byway of domestic cats.

When handling birds, bird feeders or bird baths, it is best to wear gloves and wash hands thoroughly afterward.

More information may be found at WDFW.wa.gov.

 

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