Much like a busy restaurant needs constant cleaning to maintain sanitary conditions, so dose a busy bird feeder or bird bath. Left unchecked, unclean receptacles can develop fungi and bacteria, potentially causing disease and even death of your resident songbirds.
The communal feeding and bathing by your birds allows for the easy spread fo disease. Contaminated food ord droppings can cuase a host of diseases and infectins that can result in harmful growths and other effects on the birds.
Extra attention should be paid during cold winter months, since wet foods can quickly develop molds. When adding new seed to your feeders, make a habit of removing leftover seed first, and cleaning periodically.
Depending on weather conditions, bird feeders should generally be cleaned every two weeks. Baths should be emptied and refilled every few days. For a thorough cleaning of feeders and bird baths, use 9 parts water to one part bleach, or use vinegar (bleach can whiten wood feeders).
Audubon Workshop offers an extensive line of feeder and bath cleaning tools:
Broad Stroke Cleaning Brush: One-handed cleaning makes it easy to keep baths clean and birds healthy.
Easy Grip Hummer Brush: Soft bristles get into nooks and crannies.
Tube Feeder Cleaning Brush: Has and easy-grip handle, non-scratching bristled head, and measures 23" long.