Cleaning your bird feeders is essential to providing a clean and sanitary feeding environment for your birds.
Moldy and spoiled seeds on the feeder trays can make the birds sick. A dirty feeder can harbor unwanted mold and bacteria that can potentially kill your little bird friends as well as bird droppings that have been accumulated on the ground since they carry infectious diseases that can spread to other backyards and other birds. This can create dangerous conditions and illnesses for the birds but this can be avoided by taking a few necessary steps. Cleaning your feeders is an important factor in maintaining a healthy feeding ground for birds. I clean my bird feeders and the surrounding areas every two weeks and I inspect/clean up any messes immediately after heavy rain and throw away any seeds that have been spoiled. It's a small duty of birdwatchers and backyard bird feeders to provide a safe, clean, and happy ground for your bird friends to feed on and rest up.
There are many ways to clean your feeders. I take mine apart and use dishwashing soap to clean any residue and dried up seeds with a brush. You can also soak your feeder to loosen up any dried bits. You can usually find a brush at any home and garden store or even online (I use this one, which I purchased online). You can also use an old toothbrush for smaller feeders or for areas where your bird feeder brush isn't reaching. If your feeder is dishwasher safe, you can also place it in there. To maintain extra cleanliness and for deep cleaning, you can place your feeder in a diluted bleach solution. I like to clean with the latter at least once a month or every 2 months, depending on the weather conditions. This video goes into great detail on how to clean your bird feeders with a diluted bleach solution. Don't forget to thoroughly dry your feeders before placing fresh seeds and nuts.
If you have a hummingbird feeder, it's important to change your sugar water every 3-5 days, and more frequently during humid weather so every 2 days, which is what I do during the summer. Since you're dealing with sugar water, you need to clean your feeders more often, at least once a week with a bottle brush, hot water, and diluted vinegar/bleach. I recommend cleaning every time you refill the hummingbird feeder. Don't use any soap since the hummingbirds can taste the residue in the nectar and they don't like it. It's not great for them either. Check out this video below for detailed instructions on how to clean a hummingbird feeder. Make sure to rinse out all of the bleach and residue and completely dry before refilling and rehanging.
Don't forget to clean up the ground below your feeders, as there is often an accumulation of uneaten bird seeds, bird droppings and other wastes that can be toxic to the environment, birds, and other animals visiting the area like your pets. Bird seeds on the ground can attract unwanted rodents, which will likely result in fewer birds visting your backyard. Plus, the accumulation of uneaten seeds can create a moldy backyard, which is not ideal for the environment, the surrounding plants and wildlife. Some of the ways you can clean up the surrounding area are by removing any rotten seeds and nuts, and clean up any bird droppings. Keep your grass short so you can easily pick up any mess left behind by your bird friends! Regular spot cleaning will keep your backyard looking great and inviting for your birds.