On the first day of resurgence from the throes of illness, I still have bacteria on the brain. It’s been weeks since I cleaned the bird feeders and, much as I dislike the task, I made it a priority to take down, disassemble, soak and scrub.
Years ago I was cavalier about feeding the birds, thinking it was just another visual pleasantry for my garden. Then I discovered a horrid thing called mycoplasmal conjunctivitis which first appeared on our lovely house finches in the form of swollen eyes (yes – that!) and hideous lumps about their face. And disability and death. It was heartbreaking to witness their deformity and fear that my own scuzzyness was to blame. And that’s just one disease. How about salmonellosis, cankers, pox, to name a few.
There is hardly a yard in Minnesota that doesn’t sport at least one feeder. Maybe it’s a Norwegian thing, maybe it goes along with the local fanaticism of mowing grass, and the sanctity of the lawn.
As I drive around the neighborhoods in Fergus Falls I see more bird feeders than perennials. And it makes me want to knock on doors like a crazy-lady bird policeman, and inquire if they clean their feeders. Guns must be licensed, why not feeders?
Oh dear. I guess I’m still cranky.
But here’s the basics: In dry winter, clean once a month. In wet spring and summer, clean at least every two weeks. Soak feeder in solution of hot water and bleach, 9 to 1, and scrub all parts with stiff brush. Discard old seed.
I know it’s a pain to feed them right. But they’re worth it.
So are children.