WA wildlife officials want you to take down your bird feeders to keep them from getting sick

While bird feeders may seem like a fun way to engage with and help your area’s birds, there’s a chance hanging those feeders up too early could actually put them at risk. 

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is asking you to leave bird feeders down until at least April 1 to help curb the spread of salmonellosis in the bird community. 

The disease, caused by salmonella bacteria, is easily spread when large amounts of birds gather, typically around bird feeders. Oftentimes the disease is fatal, and wildlife officials say it has been to blame for killing off a large portion of finches and other songbirds. 

Salmonellosis makes birds lethargic, and those that have the disease tend to act more tame. While it is unlikely, the disease can be spread to humans through contact.  

“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,” WDFW Veterinarian Dr. Kristin Mansfield said.

If you do insist on keeping your bird feeders up, the WDFW asks that you clean them once a day with warm water and soap. Wildlife officials suggest dunking the feeders in a solution of nine parts water and one part bleach before rinsing and drying them for reuse. 

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