Release Date: 12/18/2007

As cooler weather moves into Louisiana, many bird enthusiasts and homeowners will install bird feeders in their yards.  Backyard bird feeding is an easy way to enjoy wildlife, as well as an exciting and educational project for the entire family.

While bird feeding can be a rewarding experience for the bird-watcher, several precautions need to be taken to ensure a satisfying event for the birds.  Recent research has shown that neglected bird feeders can be a source of disease for the birds visiting them. 

However, providing a safe and healthy feeding station for wild birds can be achieved with minor effort.  Simply cleaning and periodically moving the feeders will ensure that avian diseases are not spread. 

With this in mind, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries are recommending these six suggestions to ensure safe bird feeding stations:
1. Removing old seed.  Decomposing hulls and wet birdseed may harbor bacteria that could potentially spread bird diseases.  Leftover bits of birdseed can quickly become moldy in Louisiana's humid climate.  Cleaning and disinfecting your bird feeders once a week is a simple solution for the prevention of moldy feed and disease.  For best results wash your feeder thoroughly in soapy water, then soak or rinse it in a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water.  Dry the feeder thoroughly before refilling.
2. Limiting the bird feed.  Try to limit feeders to a one-day supply, especially where raccoons, opossums, deer, and rodents are a problem.
3. Storing the birdseed.  Store your seed in a clean, dry, air-tight container.
4. Cleaning the area around the feeder. Raking the ground below and around your feeder will prevent accumulation of waste.  Moldy or spoiled food is unhealthy not only for birds, but for your outside pets.  Bird food scattered on the ground also can attract rodents.  Consider moving your feeders periodically to limit the accumulation of waste and unwanted visitors.
5. Removing dead birds.  If you see a sick or dead bird at your feeder, stop your feeding for a few weeks to allow the healthy birds to disperse.  This will lessen the possibility of disease transmission.  Remove and discard any dead birds in the trashcan.
6. Washing your hands.  Be sure to wash your hands after putting out seed and cleaning the bird feeders.

For more information on wild bird feeding, please visit the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology Web site at

For more information, contact at Nan K. Huff 225-765-0823 or