Bird-feeder Safety Tips

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Bird Feeder Safety ThumbnailAROUND THE NEK- With winter officially starting to set in, the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife is offering some safety tips for bird-feeders. Their first tip is to make sure that you keep bird-feeders clean. They recommend cleaning them at least once a month to help keep them bacteria-free.

"Birds can carry disease back and forth if they're all concentrated in one area," said Migratory Bird Biologist John Buck. "They can create a reservoir of disease at a feeder, and that gets easily passed on to other birds. Also, seeds that get wet and stay wet can develop bacteria and fungi, and those are the sources of disease for the birds."

Their second tip is to hold out on putting up bird-feeders for a little while longer.

"We would advise them to wait until they're reasonably assured that the bears have denned for the winter," said Buck.

They cannot give a specific date for when it is acceptable for people to put out bird-feeders. It all depends on if the bear's food source is gone.

"Once the snow starts to accumulate, it's not worth their efforts keep searching and digging through snow to find food; they'll just den up. And then, you're really perfectly safe from any bear issues with your bird feeder," Buck added.

Buck also said that four to six inches of snow on the ground is a good point to assume that bears have gone into hibernation and will not bother you.

Bears usually feed on fruit and nuts, but are also attracted to suet and black sunflower oil, two very common bird foods. And while bears in the N-E-K are not aggressive, they should not be taken lightly.

"The bear's looking for something to eat, and you may be viewed as an obstacle to that. And the bears could become aggressive, and humans are no match for a bear."

But as long as people follow these tips, they should have a pleasant bird feeding season.

Anyone with questions should contact John Buck at the Fish and Wildlife office in Barre.