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Cleaning and sanitizing feeders

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Old Tuesday 8th May 2018, 18:42   #1
Backyard Sanctuary
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Cleaning and sanitizing feeders

About a year ago work consumed most of my free time and I took down all my feeders. I could not find the time to keep them filled and clean. I hastily emptied the feeders then left them in my storage shed. Needless to say they need a thorough cleaning and sanitizing. I thought about using a bleach solution, but I hate the fumes. I was thinking about going with white vinegar and soaking them for an hour our two before a good scrub or I might try hydrogen peroxide (never used this method). Suggestions and recommendations are welcome.
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Old Tuesday 8th May 2018, 21:40   #2
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I never “clean and sanitize” my feeders but just refill them when they’re empty, year after year. I don’t know that anything more is necessary. . ..
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Old Thursday 10th May 2018, 16:50   #3
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Is there mold? If not, a vinegar solution works fine, but I usually just use a little dish detergent because it frequently gets cleaned and there's no build-up. However, if there's mold, that's a different story. During the height of last year's SoCal summer, the valley got up to 110 degrees, and in 1 day the hummingbird feeder developed mold. Crazy. Ended up using 10:1 water/bleach solution (maybe even more water) and soaking it in lukewarm detergent water afterwards, then finally rinsing it like a madwoman with water. It looked better than new, and the hummers (and orioles, who only dirtied it up again), in my mind, greatly appreciated it.
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Old Thursday 10th May 2018, 19:53   #4
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I never “clean and sanitize” my feeders but just refill them when they’re empty, year after year. I don’t know that anything more is necessary. . ..

There are pathogens such as the one rampaging across Europe right now, Trichomoniasis plus avian pox so good hygiene is simply good practice. We had to stop feeding at our place in Russia last year due to the number of dying birds as the feeder is a major contagion zone.

https://www.theguardian.com/environm...ong-wild-birds

You could use a mild steriliser such as the ones used for baby bottles.



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Old Thursday 10th May 2018, 20:35   #5
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Going with a laundry bleach dilution is going to be the best bet for sanitizing anything.
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Old Thursday 10th May 2018, 21:43   #6
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I never “clean and sanitize” my feeders but just refill them when they’re empty, year after year. I don’t know that anything more is necessary. . ..
Perhaps that’s why you have less birds every year. Feeders should be cleaned every week and binned every twelve months.
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Old Thursday 10th May 2018, 23:43   #7
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Perhaps that’s why you have less birds every year. Feeders should be cleaned every week and binned every twelve months.
Actually, numbers have gradually increased over the years as my yard has matured, both hummers and non-hummers. In the 30 years I’ve lived at my present address I’ve found no evidence whatsoever for disease or for death other than from predation.
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Old Friday 11th May 2018, 00:01   #8
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washing up soap and a thorough rinse and soak in boiling water does the job weekly on mine and should kill germs especially if good old bright sunlight is available. but cheaper plastics wont take that heat so bleach is needed but the smell can linger.i find. not that it seems to put them off.
so far cleaning weekly seems enough but if they otherwise get badly fouled by droppings i wash then and every couple of days i pour boiling water over the perches anyway.

i think if the mould is really bad then it is likely in the seed already and best to chuck the lot, feeders too. i was looking up feed today as the neighbour had loads of bread and biscuits out and all the birding organisations feed directives i have seen say mould is particularly bad for birds.

i dont know how the diseases mentioned spread but perches would seem most susceptible to sharing germs.
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Old Friday 11th May 2018, 07:17   #9
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washing up soap and a thorough rinse and soak in boiling water does the job weekly on mine and should kill germs especially if good old bright sunlight is available. but cheaper plastics wont take that heat so bleach is needed but the smell can linger.i find. not that it seems to put them off.
so far cleaning weekly seems enough but if they otherwise get badly fouled by droppings i wash then and every couple of days i pour boiling water over the perches anyway.

i think if the mould is really bad then it is likely in the seed already and best to chuck the lot, feeders too. i was looking up feed today as the neighbour had loads of bread and biscuits out and all the birding organisations feed directives i have seen say mould is particularly bad for birds.

i dont know how the diseases mentioned spread but perches would seem most susceptible to sharing germs.
Faeces is one way but simple, close contact can be sufficient on a busy feeder.

Anyone in the UK or Europe, should be aware of the symptoms to look for and be prepared to stop feeding and clean their feeders stop the spread.



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Old Friday 11th May 2018, 07:20   #10
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Actually, numbers have gradually increased over the years as my yard has matured, both hummers and non-hummers. In the 30 years I’ve lived at my present address I’ve found no evidence whatsoever for disease or for death other than from predation.
Looking at where you live fugl, it's probably quite dry?

Moist, warm conditions are the best environment for any pathogen



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Old Friday 11th May 2018, 09:05   #11
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Whilst there is no doubt that birds congregating at feeders are more at risk of passing on or contracting infections IMHO the primary route is less likely to be the feeders than the ground under them and any shared water provided for them.
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Old Friday 11th May 2018, 09:35   #12
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Whilst there is no doubt that birds congregating at feeders are more at risk of passing on or contracting infections IMHO the primary route is less likely to be the feeders than the ground under them and any shared water provided for them.
This is why it's important to cease feeding once an infection is observed.



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Old Friday 11th May 2018, 14:31   #13
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Looking at where you live fugl, it's probably quite dry?

Moist, warm conditions are the best environment for any pathogen
A fair point. . ..
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Old Wednesday 18th July 2018, 18:13   #14
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Cleaning practice and activity

Interesting discussion. I live in a very dry climate (Colorado, USA) and have limited my cleaning to soap and water every several days, using a bottle brush for the inside of the glass. I had assumed this was sufficient, but now I wonder...

Activity has reached a feverish pitch here (I live at 7,800 feet, 2,375 meters), with 6 or 7 birds positioning for 4 perches in the evening. I typically see this in mid August, so I am intersted to see how things look when that time frame
arrives.
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Old Sunday 2nd September 2018, 12:45   #15
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I clean my 4 feeders with a little squirt of dish detergent in hot water every 3 days, more often if the birds empty the feeder in less time. I use a port brush and toothbrush on the ports and any small parts, a dish brush for the large parts and a bottle brush and sponge-ended feeder cleaner for inside the bottles. It doesn't take that long to do the cleaning and even in hot weather, I never have any signs of mold or ickiness. I don't waste any nectar because I only fill the feeders with as much nectar as the hummingbirds go through in each feeder in 3 days' time.
I do have a feeder than had belonged to my Mom that hadn't been attended to in the month before she died. I finally got it out and found dry black mold inside the well and bottle. I scrubbed the feeder up well in the usual way but it was still rather badly stained. Putting all the feeder parts into a vinegar and water solution to soak for an hour almost completely eliminated the stains. Then another quick scrub up in detergent and hot water and I'm using the feeder now.
I had first seen hummingbirds infected with avian pox in my yard in the spring of 2016. Using dish detergent when cleaning feeders disables the virus that spreads the disease so it can't reproduce. Since it's believed that shared perches on hummer feeders are the primary vector for the disease, I also began sterilizing my feeders' external parts with a bleach/water mix or alcohol and then rinsing with very hot water thoroughly after sterilizing (I posted about that process here last year).
Last spring, I removed the perches from my feeders entirely. It's a little harder to see and check the birds' feet since they can't perch at my feeders now. I take a lot of photos of them in flight and perching in the shrubs, though, and check the photos on the big computer screen for signs of the disease. Happy to report that so far this year, I have only seen one hummingbird who showed a slight beak issue that might have been due to avian pox and another that did have an affected eye and claw. That's fewer affected birds than in each of the two previous years. Last year alone, I had 3 birds that I'm sure ended up dying of the disease - they were terribly affected.
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Old Sunday 16th September 2018, 18:26   #16
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Soap and hot water has always worked for me. SoCalHummerLady - I'd be very interested in learning more about avian pox. Where can I view your post you mentioned?
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Old Monday 17th September 2018, 21:40   #17
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Soap and hot water has always worked for me. SoCalHummerLady - I'd be very interested in learning more about avian pox. Where can I view your post you mentioned?
I posted back on Jan 17, 2017, here. It's titled "cutaneous form of avian pox" and is a page back in this forum. A newbie to this forum at the time, I muddled my way to posting a couple of photos of one affected bird later in that same thread.

There's not a whole lot of medical info in that post, so to speak; it was more about the very complicated procedure I was going through at the time to try to prevent the spread of the disease (a procedure I've since simplified). If I were writing that post now, I would have given a bit more info about the disease itself. Also, I have since taken many photos of birds that were much more severely affected that would be more illustrative of later stages of the disease than that of the little bird in the photos I posted.

So, I am considering writing a revision of the post in the not too distant future with more info about this horrible disease and photos. The photos are heartbreaking because the disease is progressive and most often fatal.
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