Clean bird feeders equals healthy happy song birds.

Crowded feeders a health risk for returning songbirds

Backyard bird enthusiasts should regularly clean their bird feeders and bird baths at this time of year.

Backyard bird enthusiasts should regularly clean their bird feeders and bird baths at this time of year, as migratory songbirds return from their winter retreats.

Species such as pine siskins, redpolls and grosbeaks congregate in large flocks in spring, and their close contact at a time of weather stress and nutrition shortage can pass diseases from bird to bird, says a bulletin from the B.C. forests ministry.

Cleaning feeders every two weeks and changing water in bird baths every few days can reduce the spread of avian pox virus, avian conjunctivitis and salmonella bacteria among birds. Using metal or plastic feeders rather than wood, and spreading out multiple small feeders that only allow one or two birds at a time also reduces the risk of disease transmission.

Wildlife biologists say these bird diseases can also spread to people handling infected birds or contaminated materials. Placing bird feeders over a concrete surface allows easier cleanup of litter underneath, which can also prevent spread of infection.

If you see one or two sick birds in your area, biologists advise clearing and scrubbing the feeder. If there are more than three diseased birds, take your feeder down for a week or two to encourage birds to disperse.

Here are some common signs to look for:

• Birds with avian conjunctivitis have red, swollen, watery or crusted eyes. Infection can be spread by feeders with small openings that birds touch with the sides of their heads. Infected birds may have trouble feeding and remain on the ground near the feeder.

• Birds with salmonella bacterium may be found dead or appear tame, sitting quietly for hours or days, often with their feathers fluffed up. Salmonella can easily spread to pets or humans, and so strict hygiene should be enforced in these situations.

• Birds with avian pox virus may have warty lesions on the unfeathered parts of their head, legs or feet.

 

Just Posted

Police seek witnesses to fatal weekend accident

Wayne Kernachan was struck by a vehicle while responding to an accident

Forestry workers set to begin job action in Kootenays

Operations in Castlegar, Cranbrook, Galloway, Elko, Radium, Golden may see job action this week.

Castlegar pastors find life in wheelchair a challenge

The men found the obstacles were both physical and mental.

Columbia Avenue paving scheduled for weekend

Paving on Castlegar’s main thoroughfare will take place in a few days, weather permitting.

Tour company plans shuttle service to Kelowna for stranded travellers

SMT Kootenay wants to help travellers get in and out of ‘Cancelgar’ in winter months

Josie Hotel will be ready on opening day, says management

West Kootenay’s first ski-in, ski-out boutique hotel to open this month

Jamie Koe, other curlers kicked out of bonspiel for being too drunk

‘You don’t kick around other players’ bags, it’s disrespectful and we expect better of our players’

Homicide victim found under B.C. bridge identified as Hells Angels member

Chad John Wilson was one of four men arrested in Spain in 2013 on allegations of smuggling cocaine.

B.C. Sikh temple vandalized with racist graffiti

Racist graffiti was found on the side of the building this morning

Shots fired near Chicago hospital, multiple victims: police

Police say at least one possible offender has been shot

B.C. to allow ride hailing services to operate in 2019

Fee will be applied to fund options for disabled people

Chocolate lab missing along Coquihalla

Brad Gibson is asking for help locating his missing dog.

B.C. connection to launch of new $10 bill

Great nephew of Viola Desmond says bill is a ‘step in the right direction’

Elections BC keeps eye on Canada Post dispute, but no change in Nov. 30 deadline

Vote No spokesman say an extension of one or two weeks would ensure all ballots are counted

Most Read