Living with wildlife

Finch at a bird feeder
Finch at a bird feeder

If you choose to feed songbirds at a birdfeeder near your house, there are several things to keep in mind to ensure the safety and health of the visiting birds. Placement of the feeder, type of food to provide, and prevention of disease transmission are all important factors when it comes to providing a beneficial environment.

  1. Place feeders out in the open so that birds can see predators, such as cats, coming.
  2. Make sure that the feeder is at least five feet high to prevent overcrowding and disease transmission.
  3. Avoid using feeders with hard-to-clean rough surfaces, cracks, and crevices where disease-harboring fecal matter and seed debris can accumulate.
  4. Change the location of the feeder on a regular basis to prevent build up of fecal matter and seed residue underneath, which creates an optimal environment for bacterial growth.
  5. Always provide a balanced diet consisting of a variety of seed types that are appropriate for the birds in your area. Birds require a nutritionally balanced diet, which is not provided by any one type of seed.
  6. Do not put out nutritionally inadequate breadcrumbs.
  7. Birds become dependent on the food at your birdfeeder. If you feed birds in the winter, it is essential that you continue to provide food throughout the entire winter; otherwise, these birds may starve.
  8. Birdfeeders should be scrubbed clean at least once a week and disinfected with a ten-percent solution of bleach water. Allow the feeder to air dry before refilling it with seed. Clean and disinfect bird baths in a similar fashion.


In May 2005, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife made additional recommendations regarding birdfeeders and birdbaths due to Salmonellosis outbreaks.
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