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A bird table is a fantastic way to enjoy the beauty of nature in your garden. A well stocked table will attract many different species of bird to your outdoor space.
The only problem is this:
If you don't care for the bird table properly, it can actually do more harm than good.
You care enough about wildlife to want to attract it to your garden, and your bird table is placed with all the right intentions. So the last thing you want to do is end up causing harm or injury to the birds.
But that's exactly what will happen if you don't keep it clean and well maintained.
In this guide, you'll find out exactly why your bird table needs cleaning, and how to do it.
Why should you clean your bird table?
While it's nice to see birds flocking to your garden, the whole point is to give them something nutritious and tasty to eat, and perhaps somewhere to bathe.
But neglecting your bird table can be really harmful to the birds. That's because they can become unhygienic if dirt, bird droppings and waste food are left to collect.
All of these can combine to make the table a hotbed of germs and nasty bacteria. If birds are exposed to this kind of environment, they can fall seriously ill.
A particular hazard comes in the form of bird droppings. These can transmit disease, especially when mixed with food. When the birds eat the contaminated food, the diseases spread.
Another hazard comes in the form of leftover food, or food that has dropped from the table to the floor. This can attract some unwanted visitors, such as rats. And these can bring their own unwanted diseases that are harmful to both birds and humans.
So it's vitally important that you take good care of your bird table and keep it clean all year round.
How often should you clean your bird table?
Now you know just how important it is to keep your bird table clean, how often should it be done?
There's no set frequency; it will depend on how popular the table is and how many birds visit. But the main thing to remember is that your table should be cleaned regularly – at the very least once a month.
For busy gardens, fortnightly or even weekly cleaning is recommended. The only way to tell for sure is to check your bird table every week and if it needs cleaning, clean it.
The tell-tale signs that it's in need of a clean are large amounts of droppings, left over or gone-off food, and crumbs or food debris scattered across the floor around the table.
Whatever you do, don't ignore the table during winter. Your garden might not get much use from yourself during the colder months, but it can still be an enticing prospect for birds. Their resistance to disease is much lower during the winter, so it's just as important (if not more so) to keep the table clean.
How to clean your bird table
When it comes to cleaning the bird table, there are a few things you'll need:
- Stiff brush
- Rubber gloves
- Chlorine bleach
- Hot water
You'll need your rubber gloves on to protect yourself from the germs and bacteria on the feeder. Once you've got your things together, it's time to start cleaning. Here's what to do:
1) Dispose of any food or seeds from the table.
2) Use the stiff brush to remove any debris or collected droppings from the table.
3) It's important that you dilute the bleach down to avoid harming the birds. Mix one part chlorine bleach with 10 parts warm water.
4) Next, use the brush to apply the bleach solution to the table.
5) Remember to clean both the inside and outside of the table. Any removable parts, such as feeders, should be taken out and cleaned thoroughly - the best way to clean plastic or metal feeders is to put them through a dishwasher cycle.
6) Once cleaned, rinse the table and all its parts thoroughly with clean water to remove any trace of the bleach solution.
7) Allow the table to dry – if it's a wooden bird table, it's probably best to let it dry overnight to prevent mould and mildew from forming.
8) In the meantime, clean the area around the table. Pick up and dispose of any dropped food, and use the brush to remove droppings from the floor.
9) Once the bird table is dry, replace any removed parts, and stock with food again.
Remember to take care of your bird table at all times...
Prevention is better than cure, so keeping your bird table clean is the best way to keep the birds that visit your garden healthy.
If your garden is big enough, why not have two or more tables? This will encourage the birds to spread out a little more, reducing the number that crowd around a single table.
Another thing to consider is the food you put out. If it takes a while to be eaten, there's probably too much there. Try reducing the amount you put out, as this will avoid waste and potential harm to the birds from eating food that's gone off.
On the other hand, remember to check the stock levels regularly. If birds come to your table and find it's got nothing to offer, they won't come back.
A well maintained bird feeder is a fantastic way to encourage birds to your garden all year round. If you keep all of these tips in mind you will enjoy your bird feeder much longer while also keeping the birds healthy.