Many concerned community members have recently asked if they should continue to feed birds, given that we now have an avian flu outbreak in the area.
We recommend that folks do not feed birds during the Spring and Summer, because there is plenty of natural food available to birds at this time of year. Any time you feed birds, you increase the chance of creating a vector for disease spread. While songbirds will likely not get avian flu (they don’t congregate as much as waterfowl, for example), they do get other diseases at feeders, especially conjunctivitis. You could still maintain your bird baths or water features (with frequent cleaning), if you want to provide this important component to support birds in your backyard.
You can also maintain your hummingbird feeders (again, with frequent cleaning), but you might need to take the feeders inside at night if you live in areas near where bears occur regularly occur, which would be most of Missoula.
For proper cleaning, use a 10% bleach solution, which is one part bleach mixed with nine parts water, followed by a water rinse, then complete air-dry.
You can get more information on avian flu in Montana at the American Bird Conservancy website.