2-5-21: Update by Mike and Merry Lynn Denny:
As long as their feeders are cleaned up every few days. This means keeping the food dry as in tube feeders and eliminate the uncovered flat tray feeders that are open to the rain. If just enough dry seed is placed in a tube feeder for 2-3 days and all accumulated shells, spilled seed, and bird droppings are swept up and dumped in the trash every 2-3 days will greatly help to keep a feeding station safe and clean. Tube feeders are so much safer for birds overall because no droppings are able to get in the seed supply. It is these bird droppings that carry the pathogens that sicken other birds.
If you find sick or dead birds, discontinue feeding and clean up the feeders and the area carefully.
1-18-21: by Chris Howard, President, Blue Mountain Audubon
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has had recent reports of sick or dead birds at backyard feeders in various locations. This has also been reported in Dayton. The current die-off of finches-such as Pine Siskins- as well as other songbirds, is attributed to salmonellosis, a common and usually fatal bird disease. When birds flock together in large numbers at feeders, they can transmit the disease through droppings and saliva.
WDFW is recommending the discontinuation of backyard bird feeding until at least February to encourage birds to disperse and forage naturally. “Birds use natural food sources year-round, even while also using feeders, so they should be fine without the feeders.”
It is possible though uncommon, for salmonella bacteria to transfer from birds to humans through direct contact with infected birds. When handling sick or dead birds it is best to wear gloves and wash hands thoroughly afterward. WDFW is asking the public to report dead birds that they observe. For more information and to report bird deaths go to: https://wdfw.wa.gov/news/help-protect-wild-birds-deadly-salmonellosis
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