New Yorkers urged to clean dirty bird feeders

Birds at a feeder on an icy morning in on Friday, Jan. 3, 2014.(AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)
Birds at a feeder on an icy morning in on Friday, Jan. 3, 2014.(AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — State conservation officials are calling for New Yorkers to clean their bird feeders, noting that about this time last year they confirmed bacterial infections in common redpolls that frequented feeders across 13 counties.

While no cases have been confirmed so far in 2014, the Department of Environmental Conservation says proper feeder maintenance helps prevent the Salmonella infections, particularly in late winter when songbirds are especially vulnerable.

The DEC says outbreaks can also affect cardinals, goldfinches, sparrows, cowbirds and pine siskins.

The bacteria can be shed in birds’ feces even when they appear healthy.

It spreads through contact with infected birds, contaminated seed and seed waste and can afflict domestic animals and people.

They advise emptying and cleaning feeders and bird baths with hot soapy water at least every two weeks.

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