Wild Bird Disease and the Importance of Hygiene Awareness
You may be aware of an issue that’s had a lot of coverage in the press and from the RSPB recently regarding the spread of disease amongst our garden bird populations. Research done by the British Trust for Ornithology suggest feeding tables and feeders are spreading illness because they bring species together which would never normally come into contact. The three most common UK diseases putting our wild birds at risk are Avian Pox, Canker and Salmonella.
Avian pox is a viral skin infection that shows up as warty growths on the head (particularly next to the eyes and beak), legs, wings or other body parts of the infected bird.
Canker affects bird’s digestive system. It typically affects finches, doves and pigeons, causing lesions in the throat of the infected bird, which makes it progressively harder for the bird to swallow its food. Unlike avian pox, in most cases, a bird infected with Canker will not survive.
Salmonella is a bacterial infection, which in wild bird populations is usually spread by contaminated droppings. Flocking ground feeders, such as greenfinches and house sparrows, are most commonly affected. There are no symptoms specific to salmonella, but infected birds will show general signs of ill-health. They are listless and lethargic, tend to stay close to feeders and fail to respond to danger. Some types of salmonella are responsible for food poisoning in people, therefore it is very important to exercise good personal hygiene when cleaning the feeders and water containers.
The infections from all these diseases can be spread in a number of ways – contaminated surfaces such as perches and feeders, contaminated drinking water, biting insects or regurgitated food during the breeding season. Of course we can’t control all these factors but as with most things, prevention is better than cure and there are steps we can do at home to try and halt further spread of wild bird diseases:
-First and foremost the best action you can take is regular and effective cleaning of your wild bird feeders, tables, bird baths and nest boxes using a reputable wild bird hygiene spray at least fortnightly
-Use several feeding sites within your garden and try not to place all your feeders in one spot. This helps to disperse the feeding birds over a larger area and reduces the potential for disease build-up
-Think about where you position feeders in relation to other garden features. For example, it is best to avoid placing a bird table under a tree in which birds perch or roost, since it soon becomes heavily contaminated with droppings
-it is important not to provide more food than birds need. Ideally, bird tables should be swept clean each day to remove droppings and any uneaten food
-Water containers should be rinsed out daily, especially during the warmer months, and allowed to dry out before fresh water is added. Droppings can accumulate in bird baths
-Personal hygiene is also important. Don’t bring your feeders into your house to clean them – do it outside, using separate utensils. Wear gloves when cleaning feeders and bird tables and always wash your hands and forearms thoroughly when you’ve finished.
How to clean your bird feeders.
Karen our Wild Bird buyer has put together an informative video to showcase the easiest and most effective way of cleaning your wild bird feeders.
Bird Feeder Cleaning Brush is an essential piece of kit for bird lovers that appreciate the importance for clean and hygienic bird feeders. This lightweight, flexible brush is able to get into the smallest of nooks and crannies to worm out any uneaten food to avoid bacterial build up. The long reach handle and flexible shaft make this the perfect cleaning brush for all bird feeders and effortlessly manoeuvres past seed ports and fixed obstacles.
Wild Bird Feeder Hygiene Spray, ready to use cleaner kills bacteria, fungi and viruses.Use with a gardman cleaning brush to keep feeders clean.Contains cationic and anionic surfactants.500ml Ready to use spray.