The Problem with Feeders

The salmonella outbreak among birds on the West Coast of the United States is worse than usual this 2021. Impacts and indication of the bacterial disease’s presence can be seen here in Central Oregon. It’s source of transmission is heavy congregation of birds at feeders, where birds are not forced to move from food source to food source. The birds seeing the most effect are Pine siskins and finches (Snavely 2021).

This blog post is here to help spread the word to our clients and followers to take heed of these additional tips to prevent the disease’s spread.

Pauline Baker, director of wildlife rehabilitation at Think Wild advised readers of Central Oregon Daily News to stay attentive, “If you are seeing a lot of birds acting lethargic around your bird feeder…[take] it down to mitigate the spread” (Snavely 2021; Falkers 2020). Lethargic birds typically appear puffed up and slow-moving, so keep your eyes on the birds in your neighborhood.

If you want your birdfeeder to remain up this winter, it is advised to disinfect it once a week. Disinfecting may be done by applying a 10% bleach solution through the feeder and giving it a decent amount of time to soak (Snavely 2021; Falkers 2020). Once dry, feeders can be refilled with seed again for the birds to enjoy. Similar disinfecting techniques are recommended for bird baths, but daily cleaning rather than weekly is recommended. Wear gloves while sanitizing feeders, and make sure to wash hands after you are finished as salmonella can be transferred to humans, pets, and other animals easily (Falkers 2020).

A close up of a bird feeder filled with loose seeds. The feeder is an example of what bird enthusiasts are encouraging their neighbors to disinfect regularly to slow the spread of Salmonella.

Furthermore, according to Jennifer Lair, Wild Birds Unlimited owner, finches will usually avoid suet feeders, which may be a valuable alternative to the traditional loose seed feeder (Snavely 2021). 

Another option is to feed birds more intermittently, such as every other day to encourage them to find food elsewhere in the wild (Falkers 2020). 

Lastly, (and here’s where we can help), place more native plants in your garden. More native plants means more choices of food and shelter for native birds and other wildlife (Richie 2016). Working together to restore native landscapes in your very own backyards can make feeders be completely supplemental.

Thanks for reading. Spread the word and help keep our backyard companions safe this season!

Falkers, Brittany. ‘Help the Birds Social Distance’: How You Can Help Prevent a Bird Salmonella Outbreak. KGW8, 30 Dec. 2020, 

Richie, Marina. Why Native Plants Are Better for Birds and People. Audubon, 4 Apr. 2016,

Snavely, Brooke. Tips for Proper Bird Feeding as Salmonella Outbreak Kills Oregon Songbirds. Central Oregon Daily News, 9 Feb. 2021,,is%20here%20in%20Central%20Oregon.