Bird feeders can de deadly for birds, says study

They can 'help spread avian diseases'

How Bird Feeders Can Be Bad (and Good) for Birds
Bird feeders are used by many of us in our gardens to help birds get essential food. They also give us a front row seat to see some of nature's most colourful creatures go about their day.

But new research claims feeders, where many birds come together in close proximity, can also help spread diseases among avian populations.

It was found birds which use feeders are more susceptible to disease and more likely to spread an infection. Birds were at greater risk of picking up parasites and even salmonella.

Researchers at Virginia Tech in America spent weeks observing the behaviours and monitoring the movements of several wild flocks of finches.

Tiny barcoded chips helped scientists identify and track the birds' movements and interactions, while field observations allowed researchers to particularly monitor the spread of the common eye disease conjunctivitis.

Potentially deadly

The disease can cause the birds to develop red, swollen eyes that can lead to blindness and result in premature death.

Lead study author Dana Hawley said: "Our results suggest that in this species, a few individuals - those that like eating at feeders - are likely very important in driving disease epidemics."

The researchers say the new evidence isn't reason to stop feeding birds as feeders help them survive the hardships of winter - particularly those species that don't migrate abroad in the cold months and are forced to scavenge.

So before you start throwing yours in the bin, they suggest cleaning and disinfecting it each time you refill.