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Spring Cleaning: Bird Baths, Feeders, and Houses

Photo by Peter Pearsall, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

As spring approaches, you may be thinking about clearing the clutter out of your home and deep cleaning for the upcoming season. But how can we prepare the outside of our homes for this lively time of year?

If you have bird houses, baths, or feeders in your yard, we are quickly approaching the most important time to clean these out. Read on to figure out why, when, and how you should be cleaning to prepare your yard as it comes to life this spring.

Is your yard bird-friendly? Check out this checklist to see if you’re ready for spring.

Why Now?

Cleaning your bird houses, baths, and feeders reduces the spread of diseases, fungus, bacteria, and more. Young birds are especially at risk of ectoparasites, which are common in the spring months when newborn birds abound. Infestations can lead to complications and even fatality in young hatchlings, making cleaning a very important task to take on.

It also makes your bird house more appealing as a potential nesting site, and makes it more likely that it’ll be put to good use by a nesting mother bird.

Baby birds abound in spring months, which are more prone to diseases and parasites. Photo by WKBN News.

When to Clean

Birdhouses should be deep cleaned at the beginning and end of every breeding season. In our area, nesting birds begin breeding in March, meaning that now is the perfect time to scrub them out.

Bird baths and feeders, however, should be cleaned much more often. These structures tend to be shared by more birds than houses and therefore have a higher risk of disease transmission. During times of heavy use, such as the upcoming breeding season, these should be cleaned every two weeks or so.

How to Clean

Bird Houses

To clean out your bird house,

  1. Remove all old nesting material
  2. Scrub the house with one part bleach to nine parts water
  3. Rinse the bleach off thoroughly with clean water
  4. Allow the bird house to dry completely to avoid mold growth

Bird Baths

Rinse and scrub the bath with one part vinegar to nine parts water. Refill with fresh water every other day.


Rinse and scrub the feeder with one part bleach to nine parts water, or place in a dishwasher on a hot setting.

American Robins enjoying a bird bath, taken by the Audubon Society.

Birdhouses, feeders, and baths are great helpers to have in your yards. But if you don’t properly care for them, they could end up doing more harm than good. Be sure to do your spring cleaning for our feathered friends this season—if they could talk, they would thank you.

Interested in improving habitat where you live? We offer seasonal tips on how to make your yard and home a better habitat for native plants, animals, and insects. Explore more Habitat at Home topics here. You can also sign up for Conserving Carolina emails to get the latest Habitat at Home columns in your inbox. 

 Author Allison Houtz is serving as an AmeriCorps Project Conserve Communications and Education Associate with Conserving Carolina. 

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