With our bird food mounting up to encourage birds for the Big Garden Birdwatch and the cold wet weather, it’s easy to forget about the importance of bird feeder cleaning.

  Greenfinches: Richard Packwood (rspb-images.com)

It’s the least enjoyable part of bird feeding but unfortunately, neglected food, wet conditions and bird droppings are the perfect environment for mould, mildew and bacteria to quickly develop.  Our bird feeding stations designed to help our garden birds, can easily become a problem and encourage disease between them unless cleaned on a regular basis; at least once a fortnight.

Keeping your bird table healthy is a crucial part of the bird feeding routine and as bird loving enthusiasts, it’s essential that we do it responsibly so as not to create problems for the very creatures we are wanting to encourage and assist.

Scrape and brush the feeding areas outside and wash down with clean water or with a little wash-up liquid or soap and then rinse. Bring the feeders inside to scrub with a brush in hot soapy water and rinse well and then dry before returning outside in wet winter conditions. It is not advised to put bird feeders in the dishwasher as it can damage the feeder and make clear plastic go “milky”. It’s also not hygienic for the dishwasher nor our own kitchen items.

The rspb sell a specific bird care cleaning kit from their online shop if you want to get just the right thing.

Other tips for minimising the spread of disease is to only put out the amount of food that the birds will eat in a day, not extra that will get damp overnight, and try to keep bird feeders a good distance apart so that there is less chance of cross contamination between birds. Clear up old, uneaten bird food from feeders and the ground and keep the dishes regularly refreshed with clean water.

Perhaps when the rain and sleet stop and there is a dry spell over the next couple of days, it’s an opportunity to pop and out practice some good hygiene at the feeding station before stocking up again.

It's all good preparation for the bird watching, research event of the year: The Big garden Birdwatch. Just two weeks to go!


The Flatford Wildlife Garden is currently closed for the winter season. Details of re-opening in 2021 will be posted on this blog and the Flatford Wildlife Garden We­­­bsite.

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