Friday, February 18, 2005

Bird Feeder Alert from Fish and Game!

This news release says much about why I, as much as I love gardens teeming with life, am reluctant to encourage the use of "bird feeders". I maintain this reluctance despite the fact it would probably be more advantageous for me, business-wise, to promote birdfeeders. I advocate feeding birds by creating a garden that "grows" plenty of food for them to find. If you do use feeders, please do so responsibly as suggested in the DFG press release.

Immediately following is the current link to the news release, the text of which is fully reproduced just below its link, since it is a "news release"!

News: California Department of Fish and Game Asks Northern Californians to Remove Bird Feeders to Slow the Spread of Avian Disease

News Release: For Immediate Release
Feb. 10, 2005
DFG Asks Northern Californians to Remove Bird Feeders to Slow the
Spread of Avian Disease
Patrick Foy, DFG Office of Communications (916) 651-9130
Pam Swift, Wildlife Veterinarian, (916) 358-1462

The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is encouraging northern California residents to remove bird feeders for at least one month to help slow an outbreak of salmonellosis, a disease affecting small brown birds known as pine siskins that live primarily in wooded areas.

Photograph of pine siskins at a bird feeder by Lisa Barker of Project FeederWatch at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Used by permission.
Human exposure to and contraction of the disease from wild birds is rare and unlikely, especially if basic precautions are taken. However, pets can contract the disease, especially if they are exposed to fecal matter below the feeders.

Pine siskins are brown, streaked birds with yellow patches on the wings and tail. Their diet consists primarily of seeds, making bird feeders particularly attractive. Birds contract the disease from one another, most often by eating fecal-contaminated food - but also by sticking their heads inside tube feeders where their eyes come in contact with the feeder itself.

California’s West Nile virus hotline has received many tips from concerned citizens reporting dead pine siskins throughout the forested areas of northern California, from Grass Valley to Eureka. Salmonellosis is a bacterial disease and is not related to the West Nile virus.

To help control the disease, DFG biologists are urging residents to discontinue feeding birds for at least 30 days, and when feeding is resumed, to:

• Replace all food in birdfeeders and water in birdbaths daily. Clean up old food around feeders
daily, and only use small amounts of food.
• Decontaminate feeders by using a 10 percent solution of household bleach in water, preferably
cleaned just prior to adding new food.
• Spread small amounts of seed over a large area in the sun, instead of using bird boxes or feeders.
Also, vary the location of seeds to avoid encouraging a concentration of birds at one site.
• Replace wooden bird feeders with plastic or metal. Wood harbors salmonella bacteria and cannot
be sanitized as effectively.
• Use gloves when handling dead birds and bird feeders and wash hands with anti-bacterial soap
when finished.

This is the second time in less than a year that DFG has asked that birdfeeders be removed to slow the spread of a disease affecting birds. In July 2004, DFG asked that all bird feeders be removed for the purpose of slowing an outbreak of trichomoniasis in California’s mourning dove and band-tailed pigeon populations. More detailed information about that disease and tips on controlling it and other avian diseases can be found at
Deadly Bird Disease Can Spread By Birdfeeders

Diseased Birds at Your Feeder -- excellent advice and information from Project FeederWatch of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

Note: I personally question the recommendation to abandon wooden birdfeeders. I would let them dry for a few hours or overnight after you thoroughly clean and santize them and before returning them to use.

A few years ago we were urged to get rid of our wooden cutting boards on the same basis. But wood actually has inherent anti-bacterial properties, whereas plastic or metal doesn't. While in normal use wood may not be as easy to "sanitize" -- instantly -- it is likely to be equally or more sanitary, especially if there is any lack of diligence in cleaning. There is nothing inherently anti-bacterial about plastic, so any bacteria left on it will persist indefinitely, whereas wood's inherent anti-bacterial action doesn't allow bacteria to persist on it for more than a few hours. Personally, I honestly feel safer with a wooden cutting board in normal use. I don't believe we really need plastic to "live the good life"!

I have calls in to the DFG to clarify the source of research behind their recommendation. I'll be very surprised if the protocol was other than to test for the bacteria shortly after cleaning.


At 3:06 AM, Blogger google nut said...

I just happened upon your blog and it's proven to be quite interesting. I run a garden statue website at and I have some deals you may find interesting this spring. I will return often to your blog and check out your new posts. Good luck and keep it going!

At 6:42 AM, Blogger James Baker said...

I just came across your blog and wanted to
drop you a note telling you, Friend, how impressed I was with it.
I give you my best wishes for your future endeavors.
If you have a moment, please visit my site:
pet center
It covers pet center related contents.
All the best!

At 8:52 AM, Blogger James Baker said...

Hi, Fellow!I like your blog!
I just came across your blog and wanted to
drop you a note telling you how impressed I was with
the information you have posted here.
I have a games center
site. It pretty much covers games center related subjects.
Come and check it out if you get time :-)
Best regards!

At 2:23 PM, Blogger Dawnsforthebirds said...

Hello there fellow bird lovers! Don't dispair and don't stop feeding the birds! Stop cleaning your feeder!! If you have any issues with damp moldy seeds or fear sick birds, try FEEDER FRESH product by Sapphire Labs. It WORKS! keeps feeder and seed clean and is safe for the birds


Post a Comment

<< Home