Frequently asked questions on salmonellosis in wild birds

  • Temporarily stop feeding birds at backyard feeders (see below for how long to abstain from this). Take down your bird feeders to encourage birds to disperse and forage naturally. Birds use natural food sources year-round, even while also visiting backyard bird feeders, and will be fine without the feeders. This includes suet. While the chance of transmission through suet is small, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • Some may choose to continue to feed birds. If this is the case, please clean feeders daily by first rinsing the feeder well with warm soapy water, then soak in a solution of nine parts water and one part bleach for ten minutes. Finish by rinsing and drying thoroughly and letting the bleach smell dissipate before refilling.
  • If you do continue to feed wild birds, please reduce the number of feeders to a quantity you can maintain with daily cleanings, use feeders that accommodate fewer birds (such as tubes rather than platforms), and spread out feeder locations.
  • Put away bird baths and fountains that birds drink from (or cover with a tarp or garbage bag) as well, or clean them daily.
  • Keep the ground below the feeder clean by raking or shoveling up feces and seed casings and disposing in garbage rather than composting, as salmonella bacteria can remain active for a long time.

Q: Are there ways to observe and help birds other than feeders?

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The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

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The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources.