Two diseases are commonly spread at bird feeders are Salmonellosis, which affects common redpolls, pine siskins, and other songbirds; and, Finch conjunctivitis which primarily infects house finches and American goldfinches.
Other diseases potentially spread at feeders include Aspergillosis (sometimes associated with moldy seed) or Trichomoniasis (a protozoan parasite spread at bird baths). Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza is not thought to be related to bird feeding or songbirds.
Clean bird feeders with a warm, soapy solution and brush to remove solid particles, then sanitize for 10 minutes with a 10% bleach solution (1 part household bleach, 9 parts water). During the winter, clean feeders every two weeks and allow the feeder to dry thoroughly before re-filling it with feed.
Note: Although we did not see any cases of the mysterious songbird eye disease in NY last year, DEC will be monitoring birds this spring and summer. DEC encourages people to report any unusual mortalities in fledgling birds this season, especially American robins, blue jays, common grackles, and European starlings.
Photo of bird feeder courtesy of K. Hill.