Feeding The Birds

Posted by Stephanie Fleming on

**Update Aug. 20, 2021**

Yesterday I sent out my email about the DNR and the birds in our area dying. So of course yesterday they released the following information!! Happy to hear this news!
As of mid-August, reports have decreased in many jurisdictions and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources is lifting its previous recommendation to cease feeding birds.

A few weeks ago, I got an email from one of our readers letting me know about Maryland, DC, and Virginia's problem with birds dying. She told me she read how we should take down our bird feeders until they can figure out what is happening to our feathered friends. This is after I wrote about how our tiny hummingbirds seem to love our feeder.

I ended up writing to the National Audubon Society to find out what is going on. Jack responded to me that for the past several weeks, Audubon and their wildlife partners have been getting troubling reports of sick and dying birds across the Great Lakes region, including Ohio and Indiana. In addition, other cases have been reported in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia areas. While they are not yet sure of the potential cause of the reports, they are following the Department of Natural Resources recommendations and ask the public to take the following steps to help prevent the possible spread of disease:

  • Hold off on feeding birds via bird-feeders if you see sick birds or are in a region where there is an outbreak until the cause has been determined. 
  • Contact your local state or district wildlife agency if you observe odd or sick bird behavior. 
  • Clean feeders and baths with a 10% bleach solution.
  • Avoid handling birds — but if it's necessary, wear disposable gloves. 
  • Keep pets away from sick or dead birds as a precaution. 
  • If you find sick or dead birds, we encourage you to report them to your state or district wildlife conservation agency.

So far, we have not seen or heard of anyone seeing dead birds where I live in Western Howard County, so I feel okay leaving my hummingbird feeder up. However, we are cleaning it each time with the bleach solution. 

My husband never put out bird feeders from April - October. He always felt there is plenty of food for them to eat from Mother Nature. Except for the Hummingbirds, that is.  

Many people love to feed their birds all year long, including my mom and her husband. Nothing gives her more pleasure than watching all the birds and other wildlife devour their food. If you are like my mother, it might be a good idea to get the old bleach out and give your feeder a good scrub. Check with your neighbors to make sure you are not in an area that is having issues. 

Maybe you are like me, leaving your spent coneflowers for the birds to feed off of. While I know it is not very pretty to see, the birds love the seeds. I love the different seasons of our flowers, and I am a little lazy in cleaning up the spent blooms. Eventually, when my husband decides to start feeding the birds again, we will go out and cut them back. 

Below is another picture I took with my smartphone. We have had an abundance of these cheerful yellow finches happily eating all the seeds on our old purple coneflowers. The second photo is a close-up that I got on a great photo site called Canva. 

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  • Happily for those like your mom and I, DNR just o.k.ed putting feeders out and filling birdbaths again.
    I’m glad to hear your thoughts on the coneflowers. My pruning hand gets itchy looking at them but oh the color on those acrobatic finches! :)

    Christine McComas on

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