Safe and Disease Free Bird Feeders for our Garden Birds

Protecting our Garden Birds Naturally


With diseases spreading at feeders it’s time to rethink them and find some natural solutions. Find ways that you can keep your friendly birds in your garden without worrying about diseases like salmonellosis, trichomonosis, Avian pox, Mycoplasmal conjunctivitis (House Finch eye disease) and Trichomonas gallinae. Read more about the individual diseases here.


First thing first!

If you discover you have any sick birds remove those feeders and bird baths!

Clean and sterilize them followed by a break where you remove the option for birds to congregate. This is essential if we want to our little friends to survive and thrive. These diseases can spread rapidly, and an infected bird will only last a day. The last thing we want to see is more birds being infected. Don’t worry though they will find wild food sources during this time, and you are giving them every chance by letting them spend some time apart.
Goldfinch and Blue Tit sitting on a garden bird feeder

But HOW is the garden bird disease passed on?

Garden birds often poop on these bird feeders as they land. The next bird comes along and eats some more seed and gets infected. The same goes for bird baths and the bird feces causes the contamination to continue.


How do I know though?

You will know you have some issues at the feeders when you see birds puffed up and slow moving, lack of coordination, head tilting. Some of the bird diseases cause swelling of the eyes or crusting.

Great tit sitting on a bird feeder in a garden with hedging

Alternatives to Bird Feeders

Try to integrate plants to your garden or balcony that promote the natural habits of birds. Plants that provide bird food and nesting materials. This will make a sustainable habitat over time that avoids tight congregations of finches, siskins, tits and sparrows. If you are reading this from USA then enter your postcode here for plants suitable for your area.  And if you are UK and Ireland based the RSPB have a great resources on suitable plants for garden birds here

Natural plants for garden bird food

Check out what types of hedges in particular you could include in your garden. This will help ensure the survival of our garden birds by providing them with everything they need in their habitats. Many of our favourite birds such as robins and thrushes will mainly survive on insects from worms, slugs and caterpillars and this will provide a space for them too. Places to forage and this can bring us even more entertainment watching them in their natural habitat. If you can build an ecological system that can work for all creatures in your garden you will ensure the survival of your garden birds and guarantee to keep them local. It is definitely possible to have a section of your garden that is of native plants is you still like to have a neat and tidy ornamental garden. A balance for everyone!


Should I clean my bird feeder regularly?

Definitely, every two weeks or if you spot any mould when you go to fill them. Keep an eye on them and if it’s not something you can commit to checking regularly maybe rethink if you want to have bird feeders in your garden. Wear a pair of gloves and remove and dispose of all food, bird faeces and mould from the bird feeders. Disassemble all parts of the feeder. Rather than using a bleach solution go for equal parts boiling hot soapy water and vinegar. Bleach is harmful to the environment and can leave a long lasting smell on wood feeders. Give them a good scrub and leave to soak for an hour. A bottle brush will get into all those nooks and crannies. It’s worth giving them a blast with high heat in the dishwasher after the soak. Let the feeders dry completely to prevent further mould forming. Then refill enough for just a few days and spread out across your garden to help keep your garden birds dispersed.


But won’t my garden birds go hungry?

Having a feeder brings in ravenous little siskins, goldfinches, sparrows and tits but let’s picture this as Walmart with Black Friday sales. Everyone is coming and queuing up with no social distancing. It’s a pandemic and completely overwhelming! Disease will spread and a little time apart in the long run will do them all good rather than overcrowding and spreading disease and creating a little bird pandemic!


Garden bird feeder with siskins and bird poop

What to do with dead birds?

Definitely dispose of them as soon as you can to keep other birds from getting infected. Wear gloves as some of the bird diseases such as salmonellosis can be passed to other animals and humans. You can bury the bird to keep it from being in contact with other animals. Dig deep! You want to protect your pets also, both cats and dogs may come searching.

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