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    Tractor Supply Company

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    How to Clean A Bird Feeder

    Authored by Tractor Supply Company

    Enjoy feeding the backyard birds by putting out a bird feeder for them to stop by on their way through your yard. Responsible bird feeding also means keeping your feeders clean. Bird feeders begin to accumulate dirt and debris, which make it difficult for wildlife to eat from it! In this blog post, we will discuss how to clean your bird feeder with little fuss or mess.

    Benefits of cleaning your bird feeders

    Bacteria, mold, mildew, and pests can move in and take over the feeder. That's why it's important to keep your bird feeders clean. Here are some of the top benefits:

    • Bird seed and waste will not clog up feeding ports as quickly, saving you money on seed in the long run.
    • Clean bird feeders will stop the spread of germs to your other wildlife feeders and birdbaths.
    • Wildlife will be able to spot your feeder more quickly.

    How can your bird feeder get dirty

    Bird feeders are popular places for other wildlife to stop by. These visitors, as well as our bird friends, track in dirt on their beaks and feet. This counts for a hummingbird feeder as well! Weather also contributes to dirty feeders. Wind and rain can carry dirt into your feeder, while sunlight may cause mold or mildew to form on bird seed that has been sitting out for too long.

    What type of debris can accumulate in your bird feeders

    Droppings carry all sorts of germs that could create a sick bird if consumed or spread to other wildlife. The same goes for mouse waste—it leaves behind parasites that attach themselves onto feeding ports and can spread to wildlife.

    Bird seed hulls can also accumulate over time, making it difficult for wildlife to eat from the feeder!

    How can a dirty bird feeder make birds sick

    Wild birds can be delicate creatures. For example, wildlife can easily come down with the flu or even avian pox if they ingest bacteria from feeding ports. Other issues that wild birds may contract are overgrown beaks and tongues, which can happen when they’re unable to eat properly because of how dirty your feeder has become.

    Best products for cleaning bird feeders

    If you have a wildlife tube feeder, then chances are there is mold and mildew on it. Mildew can cause respiratory issues in wildlife as well as skin irritation if touched or rubbed against. It's important to get rid of this stuff before wildlife come by! Spray diluted bleach onto all areas of the bird feeder that wildlife could potentially touch. This includes feeding ports, perches and the bird food tray if your feeder has one.

    What should you avoid using to clean your bird feeders

    The point of keeping a clean bird feeder is to help keep your wild bird and squirrel population healthy. Using the wrong cleaning supplies can do more harm than good. Toxic products like ammonia and non-diluted bleach will not only kill wildlife but also cause irreversible damage to your bird feeder as well.

    What tools are useful for cleaning bird feeders

    To clean your bird feeder, you will need a few key tools:

    • Wildlife-safe soap and water to give the seed ports a good soak
    • An old toothbrush or scrubbing brush, which can be used to get dirt out of tight crevices
    • A bucket or tub large enough to hold at least two gallons of water mixed with wildlife-friendly soap
    • For wood-based bird feeders, wildlife-safe wood cleaner to help restore your bird feeding station's natural look

    How to clean bird feeders

    If your bird feeder has small feed ports, you can run your wildlife feeder through the dishwasher with a diluted bleach solution. Once it has finished washing, take out each part of the bird feeder and put them outside to dry.

    How can you clean your bird feeder by hand

    For feeding ports that are too small to fit in the dishwasher, you can also use a nonabrasive sponge or cloth with water and mild soap. It's important to note whether your wildlife feeding station is made of plastic, wood, metal, glass, or another material. This will help you decide how to clean the feeding station without damaging it or harming wildlife.

    How should you take apart your bird feeder to clean it

    Metal wild bird feeding stations can be taken apart by unscrewing the top and bottom compartments. Plastic feeding ports should have screws or clips holding each part together, which you will need to detach. Feeding stations should never have feeding ports that can be removed by the wildlife because it could pose a risk to their health.

    Safety tips for cleaning bird feeders

    Allow your bird bath or feeder to completely dry before filling it up again. Dried bird feeders are much less likely to grow mold or mildew in the future. When cleaning your bird feeder, always make sure to wear gloves. After feeding wildlife, make sure to thoroughly wash your hands.

    How often should you clean your bird feeder

    By vigorously washing every part, the feeding station is left in a healthy and sanitary state for feeding wildlife! How often you should clean the feeder depends on a variety of factors.

    Why should you clean your bird feeder more often in wet weather

    If the feeding station has accumulated bird droppings or other wild animal waste during wet weather, this should be cleaned immediately. This is because wild animals are attracted to feeding stations after heavy rainfalls due to an increased need for food and water. If feeding stations aren't cleaned soon after the rain, these wild animals may stick around and make a mess of your feeding station, which you don't want!