Asheville, North Carolina | Asheville, NC

Heidi & Steve Muma

Heidi & Steve Muma

We’re passionate about birds and nature. That’s why we opened a Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop in our community.

Asheville, North Carolina

10 Crispin Court, Suite D 102
Asheville, NC 28803

Phone: (828) 687-9433
Fax: (828) 774-5537
Email: Send Message

Store Hours:
Mon - Sat: 9:30 am - 5:30 pm
Sun - Sun: 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Asheville, North Carolina

946 Merrimon Ave #120
Asheville, NC 28804

Phone: (828) 575-2081
Fax: (828) 575-2017
Email: Send Message

Store Hours:
Mon - Sat: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sun - Sun: 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm

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Health Problems with Finches and Siskins at Bird Feeders

Why is there an outbreak?
Despite what some in the media have implied, people who feed the birds should not be blaming themselves because they see sick birds at their bird-feeding stations. In fact, the disease, which is transmitted by infected fecal matter, can occur wherever flocking species gather together -- in the woods, fields or barnyards. Birds that feed in landfills, dung piles, wastewater discharge areas, and sewage lagoons are also at a high risk to be infected.


What we at WBU can do
While Wild Birds Unlimited has extensive experience and expertise in the care and feeding of wild birds, we are not experts on salmonellosis. But we do have expert resources we can use to help educate you with the facts about salmonellosis. Please report any sick birds to your nearest Wild Birds Unlimited store or local wildlife officials.


What to look for at your feeders
If you have Pine Siskin, American Goldfinch or House Finch at your feeders showing symptoms of salmonellosis, these are the symptoms. They include droopiness, diarrhea, and severe lethargy, fluffed out feathers and birds are easy to approach. Some birds may appear severely emaciated or be observed to seizure.


What to do if you find any sick birds
1. Remove all feeders for a few days.
2. Clean and sanitize all feeders, poles and the feeding area
3. Reinstall multiple feeders in new locations that are spread far apart from one another. Reducing crowding at feeders helps reduce stress and the transmission of the disease.
4. Replace wooden feeders with ones made of plastic or recycled materials. Wood is very difficult to sanitize.
5. Do not reinstall feeders that allow contact between fecal material and food (such as platform or tray feeders)
6. Initially provide food and feeders that will not attract finches (suet, safflower, peanuts, hummingbird feeders, etc.)
7. Reinstall finch feeders and food after an additional two weeks.
8. Clean feeders and birdbaths with a 10% bleach solution several times a week, be sure that feeders are dry before filling them with seed.


If you don’t find any sick birds, it is best to do the following:
1. Clean and sanitize all feeders, poles and their feeding area as soon as possible.
2. Read the recommendations found in the Responsible Birdfeeding Handout and or the National Wildlife Health Center recommendations.
3. You can continue to provide food and feeders that will not attract finches (suet, safflower, peanuts, hummingbird feeders, etc.) even if you choose to stop feeding finches.
4. If you continue providing finch feeders and food they should sanitize their feeders every few days.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) also recommends that you reduce the number of feeders you maintain and spread them out, use feeders that accommodate fewer birds (using tubes rather than platforms) and that, keeping bird baths and fountains clean is also important.

The Complete Story – from the National Wildlife Health Center web site:
Birds do get sick. Disease is one of many natural processes affecting wild species. Sick birds do show up at feeders, and other birds can get sick as a consequence.

Just because bird feeding is not problem-free does not mean that it is bad or should be stopped. It does mean you have an ethical obligation not to jeopardize wild birds. What is called for is intelligent bird feeding. (we at WBU calls it responsible birdfeeding)