Spring is here even though temperatures might not feel like it. Tulips and daffodils have sprouted and creatures have begun nesting.

I sat in wonder as thousands of birds swooped into my backyard trees to take a break during their migration. I also have a robin who has been fighting his reflection in my dining room window. That is a little annoying, but seeing that beautiful creature close-up is a treat.

It's an exciting time for Iowa residents who look forward to seeing our feathered friends. If you're like me, you're setting up bird feeders (or maybe you've been feeding all winter) and birdbaths (as soon as temps stay above freezing).

Hungry great spotted woodpecher looking back

Feeding the birds is a fun activity at my house. My favorite four-year-old loves it too. We can sit for hours (ok, she won't sit that long, but I definitely can!) watching all the different species stop by for a bite to eat. But bird tending isn't all fun and no work. We have a certain amount of responsibility when it comes to the birds' well-being.

"Male American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis) - Ontario, Canada"
Male American Goldfinch/BrianLasenby

It's easy to fill up a feeder and sit back to relax, but there's a risk that bird feeders and birdbaths can cause illness and disease. 

I-Rock 93.5 logo
Get our free mobile app

Iowans understand how easily birds can get sick especially now with the avian flu outbreaks in our area that is causing millions of domestic birds like chicken and turkeys to die or be destroyed.

Photo by Zachariah Smith on Unsplash
Photo by Zachariah Smith on Unsplash

We can help our backyard birds from getting sick and spreading the disease to domestic birds by taking a few precautions. The more birds that visit our feeders and birdbaths the greater the chances are of their getting sick. Birds and other backyard critters may bring diseases that can contaminate the food in the feeders or the water we have supplied for them.

Getting wet

We know a lot about spreading germs during the pandemic. Hand washing for humans is critical. It's easy to spread germs through the food we prepare. If you eat something without washing you're more likely to get sick. If food is left out, it becomes unsafe with bacteria and we fall ill. We need to look out for our feathered friends and ensure their food isn't contaminated with bacteria and that the water we leave out for them is clean.

American Robin on a fence
American Robin PhotosByMSA

If you're an Iowa homeowner who sets up a bird feeder or birdbath make sure you take on the responsibility that goes with it to ensure everything is clean and fresh. It's not enough to just fill up the food and water containers. 

According to AllAboutBirds.org, clean the feeders with a bottle brush and hot water at least once a week. Disassemble the feeders and run them through the dishwasher, hand wash with soap, or use a diluted bleach solution and rinse thoroughly. Don't use soap or detergents for hummingbird feeders.

Amy Place/Unsplash
Amy Place/Unsplash

Our beloved feathered friends can be messy and waste builds up easily on feeders, so it's important to keep their equipment clean. Make sure you're changing birdbath water once a week and give that a good scrub as well. Your birds will thank you for it.

George Berberich/Unsplash
George Berberich/Unsplash

No one in Iowa wants to get our birds sick, especially if the cause is unintentional on our part. Iowans love their birds. We wouldn't be feeding them if we didn't. Let's take good care of them and do our part.

Things You Should Never Do In Iowa


10 Questions You Should Never Ask Somebody From Iowa

More From I-Rock 93.5