[Tweeters] Pine Siskens

Rob Conway robin_birder at hotmail.com
Sun Apr 13 17:21:44 PDT 2008


Marvel Aid and other broad spectrum antibiotic products are entirely inappropriate for use in waterers for non-captive wild birds. Inappropriate use of these products can contribute to the development of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria. A sick bird gets a single inadequate dose or maybe two and then survives long enough for the bacteria to build defenses against the "medication". The bird then dies, leaving behind droppings and other bodily fluids in the meanwhile that are potentially filled with new resistant forms of bacteria that may lead to new possibly incurable forms of infection.

Antibiotics should only be used under highly controlled conditions where dosing, environmental conditions, and cross-contact with other life forms can be monitored and enforced. A love for wild creatures is great, but we must be careful that in our attempts to cure them of disease or illness that we don't actually cause substantially more harm than good. The best defense against the spread of salmonella and other infections in wild bird populations is to maintain highly sanitary conditions in feeder and water sources. The bleach scrub is an excellent way to do this. Feeders and waterers should be sanitized inside and out using bleach according to the instructions on the bleach bottle for "sanitizing" (bleach comes in various strengths and forms). A thorough rinse after sanitizing is also very important - bleach is caustic (can cause chemical burns) and not a nice thing to be consumed internally in concentrations larger than those used for standard water purification in systems built to provide sanitary water for humans.

The area around feeders (under them especially) should also be kept sanitary. I find this is best achieved by making sure active composting is taking place - removing the "bad stuff" by converting it to good stuff. Either remove the spent shells/spilled seed to a good compost pile or set up a system of dig in - cover - and compost directly under the feeder. This also helps prevent sprouting of spilled seed as composting raises temperatures of the material to levels that actually kill the seeds and/or allows natural organisms to quickly break down the seeds and other waste material into base nutrients that contribute to the excellent clean fertile soil that a well managed composting system produces.

Be very careful when handling feeders and waterers for wild birds - the salmonella is not selective and can be passed along to humans with relative ease. Use rubber gloves when handling feeders and waterers and wash your hands and other exposed body surface THOROUGHLY with soap after the job is done. Wearing a medical/painter type mouth and nose covering face mask is also a good idea.

The best strategy here - keep everything clean and if a bird population seems to have an infection that is quickly escalating then REMOVE THE FOOD SOURCE that keeps them coming back into the same small space where they easily cross infect one another. The birds are very good at finding clean natural food sources to replace those we provide out of our love for them. Keep providing water, but make sure that the water source is completely sanitary and is cleaned on at least a daily, if not twice a day basis.



Rob Conway Preston / Fall City, WAlatitude 47 32' 20" , longitude -121 54' 42" robin_birder at hotmail.com

From: diane_weinstein at msn.comTo: tweeters at u.washington.eduSubject: Re: [Tweeters] Pine SiskensDate: Sun, 13 Apr 2008 13:34:21 -0700

Thank you Jim! I have also wanted to help the Pine Siskens, but did not know how to other than keeping the feeders and bird baths clean.

Last year I picked up a product at a pet supply store called Marvel Aid for caged birds. It is a broad spectrum antibiotic drinking solution that is given instead of water. It contains 15 mg. of sulfadimethoxine per fluid ounce. I was later advised that this type of antibiotic would not help with salmonella, so I never tried it. Has anyone else tried it or have any knowledge of this product?

Diane Weinstein

----- Original Message -----

From: Jim Ullrich
To: tweeters at u.washington.edu
Sent: Sunday, April 13, 2008 12:48 PM
Subject: [Tweeters] Pine Siskens

Over the past 16 years we have seen various cycles of illness developing
in our Pine Sisken flocks. The number of reported ill birds this Spring seems to be far
less then in years past. The larger the flock, the better chance they may have of spreading
Salmonella amongst the group, in their evening roosting area primarily.
We have found that cleaning the outside of your feeders is very important, especially,
if there is an outbreak of conjunctivitis or salmonella. We recommend wiping down the outside
with a 10% bleach solution to kill any bacteria that may be on your feeder. Swab out the seed tray, if
you use one, 2-3 times a week to remove any droppings. Also water in any droppings on the ground
under your feeders to stop the spread of any diseases to your ground feeding birds.
We have also found that an ill Pine Sisken gets all puffed up and lethargic and will just sit on a perch
or in your seed tray. You can actually go out pick them up and nurse them back to health.
We have had a 71% success rate of getting them through the first night of illness. We have a small
box ready for them in the house, a little water tray and small pile of sunflower chips in another tray.
When I have brought them inside I put my gloved finger in H2O and put it on the beak of the ill
bird and it invariably will drink any number of drops of fresh water. I then put it in the box for the day/
evening. Check it again a few hours later and go through the fresh water routine.
Next morning we have been lucky enough to see a good number of survivors fly back into their native
It is like having a bad human cold, we need H2O, food and rest to get over the hump
of any illness. The same applies with our friends the Pine Sisken, we believe.
We also recommend that you keep your bird baths full and clean, and your feeders full
and clean. If you take the food and water source away, you may exacerbate the problem
by removing a guaranteed clean feeding area.
Sincerely, Jim Ullrich-- 3120 1/2 Harborview DrGig Harbor, WA 98335253-851-2575 or 800-851-2575http://www.wbu.com/gigharbor _______________________________________________Tweeters mailing listTweeters at u.washington.eduhttp://mailman1.u.washington.edu/mailman/listinfo/tweeters
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