Cleaning your bird feeders once a month, year round, is important for the health of the birds. It is recommended that hummingbird feeders be cleaned every four days. And it is important to make sure you avoid toxic cleaners.
Fungi such as Aspergillus fumigatus, a fungus which causes respiratory infections in birds, can grow on the feeders.
Here is a non-toxic solution and technique to make this chore easier and safe for the birds.
If you are enthusiastic about bird feeding and operate more than a couple of feeders, cleaning them on a rotating schedule will prevent having to clean them all at once–a potentially burdensome task.
Obtain a tub big enough to hold your birdfeeder(s), a scrub brush, outdoor hose, gloves, scent-free liquid soap or detergent, and white distilled vinegar.
Place your feeder in the tub outdoors, fill it it with warm water and a squirt of liquid soap or detergent. Wearing gloves, scrub the parts of the feeder you can reach, and rinse thoroughly with a hose. Empty the tub and fill it with clean water and 4 cups of vinegar.
Let the feeder soak for 1 hour. Rinse thoroughly.
Also, make sure that you call wildlife officials immediately if you notice that the birds in your vicinity seem sick.
Annie Bond is the executive editor of Care2′s Healthy and Green Living content and the author of a number of books including Home Enlightenment(Rodale Press, 2005).