February 24, 2020
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Spring a time to clean those bird feeders well

Spring comes on the wings of birds. Bluebirds have arrived at the Fields Pond Audubon Center. They are checking the birdhouses and establishing their territories.

Jerry Smith of Orrington has seen wood ducks and green-wing teals in swamps and marshes. He also saw a bittern, a heron known for its wonderful camouflage. Its brown streaks make it blend in perfectly with the brown cattails in a marsh.

Ed Grew of Orono was pleased to see the first osprey and first tree swallows of the season flying over the Stillwater River.

He spotted the first yellow-bellied sapsucker of the spring, too. This is a bird whose name amuses nonbirders. Well, it does have a yellow belly, and it does ingest sap. It drills rows of small holes in tree bark, especially on apple, birch and hemlock trees. Then its brushlike tongue absorbs the sap. This is an interesting woodpecker, worthy of an entire column.

But, I must change gears to a more serious topic.

Those with bird feeders should now clean their bird feeders with a solution of 10 percent bleach and 90 percent water.

We should not be feeding seeds on the ground in spring, because of salmonella. Visit www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw/ for more information.

Many redpolls and pine siskins have been feeding from people’s feeders in the Bangor area. Some were sick with salmonella, leaving bacteria on the ground under the feeders.

Those bacteria might infect sparrows that feed under feeders. So it’s better to stop feeding now and rake the area, so that spring sparrows such as song, white-throat and chipping sparrows don’t get salmonella.

Dogs and cats and people can get salmonella, too. If you find a dead bird, put it in a plastic bag without touching the bird. Dispose of it in the trash so it will get incinerated. If you just toss it into the bushes, a dog or cat might eat it, getting salmonella — another reason to keep a cat indoors all the time.

Many people stop feeding birds now, and that’s fine. If you don’t stop, at least bleach your feeders and change their locations. The birds will thank you.

For information on Fields Pond Audubon Center, call 989-2591.

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