During spring many small migratory songbirds are returning home from the south. Pine Siskins, Redpolls and Grosbeaks are commonly found in large flocks this time of year. This increased density of birds can lead to the spread of serious and even fatal diseases such as avian conjunctivitis, avian pox virus and salmonella bacterium. These can spread to people and pets who are in contact with contaminated material.
The public can help maintain bird health and prevent spread of these diseases through a number of simple measures. The most important thing people can do is to clean their birdfeeders and birdbaths regularly. This should include replacing birdbath water every few days and scrubbing and cleaning feeders and baths as well as the area around them. This should be done at least every couple of weeks. Other things bird lovers can do to help: Spreading out multiple feeders to discourage crowding. Use smaller feeders that allow only one or two birds at a time and that are made of plastic or metal rather than wood. Keep the area under the feeders clean. Locating them above cement will make this task easier. If you see one or two diseased birds in your area, take your feed down immediately and clean it. If you have more than three diseased birds, encourage the birds to disperse for a while. Take your feeders down for a week or two, clean them and re-hang them. Consider letting your neighbours know so that they can take action too.