Sunday, February 5, 2012

They're Ba-aaaaack! Clean and Disinfect Your Bird Feeders

that's some good seed, lady!
"Mom, Mom, get up, they're back! The birds are back!"

i've missed these little pudgers!
Isn't it so cute when the little ones wake you up with such excitement early in the morning? 

Will you still think it's adorable when I tell you that I don't have any kids, and that was actually 26-year old ME running to my parent's room this morning to tell my mom the news? 

Not so much? Well, let me explain...

our neighbor's shed washed up against our bridge
Our neighborhood was hit pretty hard by flooding in September as a result of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. In addition to the damage, mess, and helplessness such an event causes, an additional major bummer has been that we haven't had any wild birds at our feeders in months. Ever since the flood, our usually busy feeders have stood untouched.

can you tell I was having fun with photo effects today?
One farm girl skill I've got down pat is a love of nature, especially birds, so this has been a pretty sucky winter in terms of bird watching. I love to sit in our sun room with my binoculars and field guide, observing and identifying the feathered characters that stop by. I've really missed that this year. 

finally some winter beauty
So, when this morning I noticed the cat staring out the window with that jerky attentiveness that can only be caused by a little flying fluffball, my heart jumped a bit. I looked out in the garden, and there on the dried stalks were a half dozen American gold finches, chowing down on thistle seeds!

welcome back, friend!
Now that I knew that the birds were still around here somewhere and were starting to reconsider our yard as a hangout spot, I decided to clean and refill our feeders.

How to Clean Your Bird Feeders

I'd never cleaned feeders before (my mom's always taken care of that), so I Googled an article form Cornell Lab of Ornithology to find out how to properly do so. This will be a lot easier in the summer when I can do it outside in big buckets or plastic tubs, but the sink worked fine for today.

I filled one side of the sink with hot soapy water (I used Dawn, because I figure if it's safe enough to wash oil off penguins, it's got to be okay for the bird feeder). I put the first feeder in and let it soak for a bit, then scrubbed it with a dish sponge.

The Cornell Lab article said to then soak the feeder in a a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water. I started measuring very carefully to make sure I'd get the ratio right, then I realized it was going to take forever, so I just filled the sink with hot water and threw in some Clorox. I probably ended up putting in about 4 cups of bleach. I don't know how that came out in relation to the 1:9 solution, but I don't think it could have been too far off. It seemed to get things clean, but it didn't reek like bleach either.

once I moved the first feeder to the bleach solution sink, I put
the other feeders in the soap water
Once everything had been washed and rinsed (I rinsed VERY well to make sure the bleach was off), I set everything outside to dry.

After a few hours, I put fresh food in the feeders, and my sweet hubby hung them outside. Now I'll really be on the watch out for more homecomers!

can't wait to see who stops by!
My question for you all is, how do you clean your feeders? Do you know a better way? Please share!


  1. Wow you did such a great job on cleaning your feeders. I know the birds will be there in no time.

    1. Thanks, Alicia! I sure hope so! Thanks for stopping by--come back again! :-)

  2. If I were a bird, I'd definitely want to stop in and have dinner at your place :) as a kid I used to love looking at the bird feeders in our yard, waiting to see what kind of wildlife would fly in!

    1. Thanks, Kyle! You must see some awesome birds down in Chile! When I lived in Spain, I was always amazed by these crazy birds that would fly through on their way to Africa...some didn't even look real! Thanks for stopping by; keep up the KILLER photog work!


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