A drop in the number of reports of sick or dead birds across Washington and other northwest states means backyard bird feeders can be put up again as of April 1, but with caution.
An outbreak of salmonellosis in pine siskins and other songbirds had WDFW asking people with bird feeders and baths to put them away for a few months earlier this winter to discourage wild birds from congregating and potentially passing salmonella bacteria to each other. When birds flock together in large numbers at feeders, they can transmit the disease through droppings and saliva.
Since WDFW first put out word of the outbreak in early January, reports of sick or dead birds have decreased substantially, but they are still coming in, so we are suggesting that people take their time in returning to their full scale of feeding. We would also like to emphasize that those who live in bear country will want to consider leaving their feeders down as they can attract hungry bears coming out of hibernation this spring. Also please be aware that there is the potential for salmonella to pass to humans through the handling of bird feeders, so we ask people to take precautions when filling or cleaning feeders.
An update on the salmonella outbreak situation and WDFW’s recommendations are at https://wdfw.medium.com/frequently-asked-questions-on-salmonellosis-in-wild-birds-cae47b1c13dd.