Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
3911 Highway 2321 Panama City, FL 32409-1658
850-265-3677 FAX 850-747-5690
CONTACT: Dr. George Wallace (850) 265-3676
Many stores now carry a variety of bird seed and even bird baths. The popularity of back- yard birding is evidenced by the fact that more than 54 million Americans enjoy feeding and watching birds according to a survey by the Sporting Goods Manufacturing Association and USDA Forest Service. A 1996 study conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service showed that more than $417 million annually was spent nationwide on items such as bird seed, feeders, binoculars and other birding items.
For those individuals seeking such a connection with nature, some guidelines are recommended.
"Bird feeders containing mixed feed, sunflower seeds, etc. should be thoroughly cleaned with a disinfectant at least once a month," said Dr. George Wallace, a wildlife biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Bureau of Wildlife Diversity Conservation. "There are several infectious diseases birds can pass among themselves and this maintenance is necessary."
The same cleaning regimen applies as well to nectar feeders. Nectar feeders are put up for species like hummingbirds, orioles and house finches, and contain a sugary feeding solution (four parts water to one part granulated sugar), which if not cleaned periodically can become a bacterial death trap for visiting birds.
Especially during the recent drought conditions a clean water source is recommended. Wallace said bird baths should be emptied and refilled every 3 - 4 days and thoroughly cleaned with a disinfectant, such as a weak bleach solution, every two weeks.
For people who enjoy feeding birds Wallace said it's a good idea to locate the feeders near cover, such as an overhanging shrub or tree. Attracting songbirds out in the open makes them more vulnerable to predators such as small hawks and even house cats.
While not everyone wants to be able to identify every bird that visits their feeder, Wallace said most backyard birders would benefit by picking up a good field guide to the birds of our area. The guides are nominally priced and usually are available from larger book stores.
Provided by: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
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