Dave Currie, president of the Nova Scotia Bird Society, was on ctv news last evening talking about avian parasite trichomoniasis and how we should remove backyard bird feeders to help prevent spread of the disease. Is anyone seeing sick birds at the feeders? In particular the finches.
Re "... feeding birds in the summer months ups the chance of disease ...", the irony of the situation is that were it not for people feeding the finches the problem might not have been identified as readily if people were not feeding the birds.
The Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperativve recommends the following:
During a known outbreak of trichomonosis, remove bird feeders and baths for at least two weeks to disperse birds and reduce the likelihood of transmission. During the summer months there is plenty of natural food and water available for birds.
Clean your bird feeders and baths regularly. A weak solution of domestic bleach (5% sodium hypochlorite) should be used to disinfect feeders and baths. Feeders should be rinsed well and dried before re-use.
Only use bird feeders that prevent the seed from getting wet. Bird seed that is exposed to rain and becomes wet is a more suitable environment for the potential survival of the parasite.
Do not use table feeders. Sick birds sitting directly on bird seed are more likely to contaminate it with Trichomonas gallinae.
Report any sick or dead birds to the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative. Find your closest regional centre at: http://www.cwhc-rcsf.ca/
so therefore, by feeding the birds you think it saved them. Parasites, disease are part of life, in the natural world the weak die or are eaten. It's like the deer , if they had the natural predators in good numbers , the deer would be healthy and the chance of tics would be low. You want to feed the birds in summer months , that's a choice, but if in doing so you need to be vigilant at keeping them clean. I know alot of birders who do keep them clean regularly but when it's recommended that you take them down during an outbreak and you choose not to, then is that really helping the birds?
I agree with your recommendations Don, I think they are a good guideline to go by if someone is going to feed the birds year round.
Back during purple finch migration in April, we saw a disturbingly high number of individuals with either this or house finch eye disease. They could barely fly and spent most of the time on the ground. I imagine they either starved or were easily predated. Took our two tube feeders down as soon as we noticed it.
As a rule we stop feeding after spring migration, usually late May. Feeding in summer attracts raccoons, bears, etc., and few birds use the feeders so the seed sits out for extended periods.
I have seen two that acted like the birds on the cbc news item. They both died.