Do you have a bird feeder in your backyard?
The BC SPCA is asking you to take it down, for now, in order to stop the spread of salmonella.
The bacteria, which can be found in backyard bird feeders, is linked to the deaths of a high number of birds across the province in recent weeks.
Primarily the outbreak is affecting pine siskin birds, a member of the finch family.
In January alone, BC SPCA’s Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre has admitted 43 pine siskin birds showing signs of the disease.
Sick birds may appear lethargic, unusually “fluffed up”, and show signs of irritation around the eyes, the BC SPCA says.
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“2021 has gotten off to a rough start for pine siskins on southern Vancouver Island and the rest of the province with a deadly outbreak of salmonella,” BC SPCA Wild Animal Welfare Manager Andrea Wallace says.
Despite efforts to save them, few survived.
“Salmonella is a severe and contagious disease so we’re asking people to temporarily remove, or at the very least clean, their bird feeders and bird baths to prevent further spread of the disease,” says Wallace.
In order to properly clean a bird feeder, the BC SPCA recommends discarding seeds, washing with soap and water, wash a second time with a 10% bleach solution, and rinse and air-dry completely.
But even a clean feeder can carry risks.
Except for liquid feeders, the BC SPCA recommends only keeping your feeder up between the months of October and March.
In the spring and summer there is a lot of natural food for birds, according to the BC SPCA.
Providing another food source for birds in the warmer months can affect nutrition, increase the risk of window strikes, and increase conflicts with other animals.
If you see a sick bird you’re asked to call the BC SPCA at 1-855-622-7722 or your local wildlife rehabilitation centre.