How to Keep Your Garden Birds Healthy
When your garden is a bird haven offering plenty of food and water, you’re doing your garden birds a big favour. They can supplement their diet during summer months and find the food they so desperately need throughout winter. However, any place that many birds congregate is a place where avian disease can spread.
Here are some ways you can limit the spread of illness and keep your garden birds healthy:
Manage the Food Supply
If your bird food is sitting on the bird table uneaten for days on end, that’s plenty of time for it to become rotten or mouldy. Put out less food at a time to make sure everything is eaten when it’s at its best.
Don’t Leave Food on the Ground
Some birds don’t like to eat from a bird table or hanging feeder. But food left directly on the ground can attract vermin like rats. Rats carry diseases that can affect both birds and humans. To avoid this health risk, use a ground tray for your bird food. That way you can take it away at the end of the day and keep it properly clean.
Clean Bird Feeding Equipment
Bird feeders, tables, baths and nest boxes can harbour parasites that cause disease. Bird droppings can also breed harmful bacteria. You should regularly clean and disinfect all of your bird care equipment. Leave everything to dry fully before putting it back in your garden. When it comes to a nest box, you have to be sure that no nesting birds are currently in residence before removing and cleaning it.
Move Feeders and Tables
Bird droppings can accumulate underneath hanging bird feeders and bird tables. Regularly move them around your garden so you don’t end up with a large, bacteria-breeding collection of faeces in the one place.
Look out for Sick Birds
If you find a dead bird or notice a sick bird in your garden, stop putting out bird food immediately. Clean and disinfect all feeders, tables, bird baths and (if the season allows) nest boxes. Once you stop seeing dead or sick birds, you can put the clean equipment back into your garden. This will help to prevent the spread of disease to your other garden birds.
Maintaining good hygiene of your garden and bird care equipment is essential. By following a few simple rules, you can ensure the health and happiness of your avian garden guests.
You might also be interested in our post on Tips to attract more birds to your feeder or one on Endangered Garden Birds and what you can do to help.
Looking after your garden wildlife in October
Its Halloween this month so make sure your birds get a "treat"! Give your feeders and water baths a good clean with a 5% disinfectant solution. Using a stiff brush get into all the nooks and crannies to help remove any left over seed which can attract the bugs. It is also a good idea to move feeders around so droppings don't start building up underneath.
I know I mentioned this last month, but keeping a pile of leaves, logs and twigs is critical for all sorts of wildlife who need a warm, safe sanctuary over the winter months. Insects, hedgehogs, dormice will all love you for providing a haven for them! A thriving insect population then feeds the birds so this is critical to a healthy, vibrant garden the following Spring.