The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has a message for bird lovers: Clean out your bird feeders.

  • Songbirds, particularly cardinals, are being infected with salmonella
  • FWC issued guidelines to cleaning bird feeders

Having received a number of reports of sick and dead cardinals throughout the Sunshine State, the FWC is warning bird lovers to clean out feeders to lessen the chance of spreading disease.

A number of sick and dead cardinals have been reported in several Florida counties, such as Marion and Flagler. After conducting tests, it was revealed that cardinals and other birds have been infected with a salmonella species.

"These bacteria are transmitted by ingestion of contaminated feces. For this reason it is very important to clean bird feeders regularly, especially during disease outbreaks," the FWC warned.

The FWC issued the following guidelines:

  • Use a diluted bleach solution to clean your bird feeders every two to three weeks. First, discard old feed. Then, while wearing gloves, use a scrub brush and soapy water to remove crusted material from the feeder. Next, soak the feeder in a 1:10 bleach solution for 10 minutes. Rinse the feeder with water and place in a sunny area to dry thoroughly before use.
  • Clean birdbaths in a similar fashion.
  • Minimize crowding at feeders. Provide enough feeders spaced far enough apart so birds do not have to jostle each other for space at a feeder.
  • Rake clean any debris (feed and bird feces) that accumulates around the feeder area.
  • Do not clean bird feeders and birdbaths near human living and eating areas. Salmonella can cause illness in people, so it is best to take precautions such as wearing rubber gloves and washing hands thoroughly.

If anyone finds any dead birds in the yard, the FWC advised that bird feeders should be removed for two weeks and to report any finds to its wild bird mortality surveillance system.