Birds that spend a lot of time at feeders are more likely to contract disease. A new Iowa State University study of House Finches in Virginia found birds that visited feeders often were more likely to spread an eye infection similar to pink eye in humans. The study's lead author James Adelman says they tracked individuals in the wild and found that those that spent the most time at feeders were the most likely to get sick.
Adelman: "By actually looking at how the different individuals interact with the feeder in different ways and mapping that onto their individual risk of getting sick or of spreading the disease further, I think that's a real step forward to identify that it really is the interaction with the actual feeder that's doing it."
But Adelman says there is no need to remove back yard bird feeders, even in light of the findings. The feeders provide a source of sustenance during the winter months. Adelman recommends regularly disinfecting them to combat the spread of disease.