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Keep Birds Healthy This Winter: Clean Feeders

A bird recently died from salmonella in the Glen Ellyn area, officials say, adding cleaning feeders helps limit the spread of disease among birds.

From the Willowbrook Wildlife Center

Winter is a busy time of year at backyard bird feeders in DuPage County, and the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County reminds residents to properly maintain their feeders to prevent the spread of disease among birds.

This reminder comes after the recent confirmed salmonella death of a pine siskin from the Glen Ellyn area. Pine siskins are very small brown songbirds with subtle yellow edgings on their wings and tails. They are similar in appearance to goldfinches and are flock-oriented.

Ron Skleney, a naturalist at the District’s Willowbrook Wildlife Center, reminds residents that they should be cleaning their bird feeders year-round to prevent the spread of bird disease.

Skleney says, “It’s important for well-intentioned bird lovers to practice good feeder hygiene.” He states that it is not necessary for residents to remove bird feeders unless there is evidence of the illness. He explains that the affected birds appear puffed up and lethargic and too easily approachable. A person who encounters any birds with those symptoms should promptly remove their feeders for 3 to 4 weeks. Skleney says, “Although salmonella has been confirmed in pine siskins, people maintaining backyard feeders should be on the lookout for any other species exhibiting any abnormal behavior as well.” 

Salmonella is a contagious disease and people who maintain backyard feeders can take simple precautions to protect their health.

“Precautions include wearing rubber gloves when handling feeders and washing them outdoors with a solution of nine parts water to one part bleach,” says Skleney. “It’s important that residents thoroughly wash their hands with warm, soapy water afterward.” 

Willowbrook Wildlife Center is the District’s a native wildlife rehabilitation and education center and is located at 525 S. Park Blvd., one mile south of Roosevelt Road in Glen Ellyn. For more information, call the center at 630-942-6200.

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