Winter feeding of small birds


<p>Winter has truly arrived in Finland and the winter feeding of birds is under way. Supplementary food is necessary for many small passerine birds wintering here. As the winter wears on, more and more small birds are forced to rely on food from bird tables. However, infectious diseases can also spread through large flocks.</p>

How to keep birds healthy during winter feeding
A good feeding station is based on feeders which birds cannot enter. This protects the food from bird saliva and, more importantly, droppings. Some bird diseases, such as salmonella, which is spread through droppings, can be transmitted to people and other animals visiting the feeding station. Feeders must therefore be made of durable, easily cleaned materials.

Birds are tireless spreaders of seeds and husks around a feeding station. In addition, droppings accumulate on the ground. You should clear up this debris from time to time, especially if the weather turns warmer and the ground around the feeding station becomes wet.

The larger the amount and the better the quality of food available, the more birds the feeding station will attract. The droppings of a single infected bird can come into contact with dozens, if not hundreds, of birds at a feeding station. It is therefore best to limit the amount of food available. This will make it easier to manage hygiene and disease control. If you are keen on feeding birds and have plenty of food, it may be best to have a second feeding station at a different location.

The location should be chosen carefully, so as not to cause problems in the neighbourhood. A well-kept feeding station is a benefit and delight to both the birds and people in the vicinity.

Bird samples from feeding stations are vital to the national monitoring of diseases
An epidemic can strike at a feeding station, regardless of the precautions taken. On some occasions, a lot of dead birds may appear, while on others there is just the occasional sick bird. To assist in the investigation of such diseases and deaths, any dead birds should be sent to the Fish and Wildlife Health Research Unit in Oulu, for examination by Evira. These examinations are free of charge and the findings are always sent, in the form of a written report, to the sender of the sample.

For more information, please contact:
Researcher Marja Isomursu, Fish and Wildlife Health Research Unit
Tel. + 358 40 512 1248, marja.isomursu at-merkki.gif : 1Kb

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