ODFW sounds all clear on backyard feeders

Oregon bird enthusiasts can put their yard feeders out once again.

Earlier this year, officials from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife asked residents to take down feeders to halt the spread of salmonella among some local bird populations.

The disease appears to have run its course in the area, said Stuart Love, district wildlife biologist in the Charleston Field Office of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Love reported from Coos County but expects the situation to be the same throughout the area.

“The short lifespan is normal for outbreaks like this. Birds pick up the bacteria that cause salmonella on their feet when they feed at an infected feeder. Then they carry it to another feeder and inoculate that feeder with the bacteria, which results in other birds being exposed,” Love said.

Salmonella can kill birds quickly and can result in many deaths in a short span of time.

ODFW suggests that people with bird feeders and birdbaths clean them regularly. Any bird feeder can become the site for a proliferation of salmonella but it seems that wood ones are the most likely to be the type that will be involved, probably due to the porous nature of wood. Cleaning wood feeders with bleach is highly encouraged.

When cleaning bird feeders, wash them with soap and water. Soaking them in a 10%-bleach solution should be enough to wipe out most diseases. Let the bird feeders dry completely and then refill with fresh seed that was purchased recently. Before putting bird feeders back up, the ground below the feeder should be swept and discarded. 

Feeders should be cleaned regularly and owners should wash their hands after handling or cleaning dirty feeders.