The fledglings have flown south with their parents, the nests are abandoned, and you have decided that it is the perfect early spring day to take down and clean your bird houses before the residents arrive back from their wintering grounds.
STOP ! Please read this before proceeding one step further.
Are you aware that numerous life threatening diseases are picked up through the cleaning of bird houses and feeders ? If not, then this article is for you.
Below is a partial list of diseases/parasites that may be picked up by the simple task of doing some cleaning around your yard.
The above list is by NO MEANS all-inclusive !
There are numerous other zoonoses that may be picked up by the handling of bird houses, bird feeders and the cleaning of any area where birds frequent.
This article is strictly a means to make you aware of the more common ones and hopefully to alert someone to the dangers so as to avert a possibly life threatening disease or infection from occurring.
Please also be aware that birds harbour numerous ectoparasites such as ticks, fleas, and mites. These parasites will be perfectly happy to jump or walk on you in search of a warm meal.
All of these ectoparasites can be found in nest detritus and in areas where birds frequent.
The majority of bird zoonoses are picked up from the inhalation of dried fecal and feather matter. There are also numerous cases where food and water has become contaminated from bird visits/feces.
The following precautions should be taken when you begin to clean any area where birds frequent. Also, stay well away from your air conditioner or ventilation units when cleaning any bird houses.
* If at all possible, cleanup of large areas should be handled by a professional.
* Wear a respirator that is good for filtering out particles as small as 0.3 microns
* Wear disposable clothing (including a hat ) and gloves .
* Keep the droppings wet with a disinfectant. This stops the pathogens from becoming airborne during clean-up.
* Put the droppings and soiled cleaning materials in a sealed plastic bag for disposal.
* In areas adjacent to or in houses or buildings, make sure all heating and cooling air ducts are sealed and shut down prior to clean-up.
* Dispose of your soiled disposable clothing while still wearing your gloves and respirator.
* Keep bird houses and feeders disinfected regularly. Not only are dirty houses and feeders a danger to humans, they also cause the death of thousands of birds annually due to the spread of pathogens which are picked up by birds visiting contaminated feeders and birdhouses.
Bird feeders, houses and baths are an attractive addition to your landscaping.
Please make sure that they are not harming the very birds that you are attracting and possibly harbouring pathogens that may cause your family or visitors to become seriously ill.
Jo-Anne Smith, the author of this article, is a REALTOR® with Your Choice Realty , Burlington, Oakville and Mississauga, Ontario and welcomes your real estate inquiries. To contact her by email: Email Jo-Anne Smith