Back to Stories

Cleaning Your Feeder for Healthy, Happy Birds

Posted on May 2, 2022

Spring has officially sprung and many migratory bird species are returning to Manitoba to fuel up on food, claim territories, and breed. Setting up feeders can be an exciting way to interact with these birds.

Redpoll feeding at a full bird feeder

However, it is important to regularly clean bird feeders to keep your backyard visitors healthy. Leftover bird seed can become moldy, and droppings can accumulate on feeders and cause avian illnesses. Thankfully, it’s easy to clean feeders and create a safe environment for your birds. 

Wondering how best to keep your feeders safe?

  • Every two weeks, scrub and soak bird feeders in a 10% chlorine bleach solution (one part bleach to nine parts water), or a 50/50 ratio of vinegar to water for hummingbird feeders
  • Rinse feeders with water and allow them to air dry completely before refilling
  • Select bird feeders that prevent seed from getting wet, as harmful mold and bacteria can grow on wet seed easily
  • Use plastic, steel, or glass feeders as they are easier to clean than feeders with porous surfaces
  • If you notice a sick bird at your feeder (symptoms such as fluffed-up feathers, abnormal growths, crusty eyes, or lethargy), remove feeders for two weeks and clean thoroughly before returning it outside
  • Report any sick birds you observe to the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative information line at 1-800-567-2033 or use their online reporting tool at 

For more information, visit:

Wild Birds Unlimited’s Bird Feeder Cleaning & Care Guide

All About Bird’s Guide to Bird Feeder Cleaning 

Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative’s Backgrounder on Trichomonosis


Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) has been spreading among migratory waterfowl and other bird species in North America, and was recently detected in Manitoba. While FortWhyte Alive will continue to stock bird seed and feeders in our Nature Shop, and keep our onsite feeders up, we are instating a stringent cleaning protocol to protect wild birds from infection. We recommend all who enjoy feeding birds to clean their bird feeders with a weak bleach solution at minimum once weekly, up to every 48 hours if possible. Maintaining clean feeders is crucial in helping prevent the spread of this illness among wild birds.

Learn more by checking out this tip sheet from the Government of Canada.