There have been numerous sightings of large flocks of Pine Siskins in the Metro Vancouver region this winter. Dirty bird feeders are prone to salmonella infection, which is often lethal to Pine Siskins and other species.
You might not actually see them at your feeder while you’re home. However since they tend to move around frequently, they might visit your feeder while you’re out and infect it without you even knowing it. Therefore it’s safest to assume they do come and to clean and disinfect regularly.
Feeders tend to have two main purposes, namely feeding the birds and entertaining the people watching those birds. That creates a dilemma.
It’s very important to remember that proper cleaning and disinfecting protects you too, because salmonella bacteria carried by the birds can be transmitted to people and their pets.
Complete removal of feeders would obviously eliminate the risk of infection. However some people might not like that, since they feel it would deprive the birds of food. Those people can help reduce the risk of infection if they are willing to strictly follow the cleaning and disinfecting advice provided by these reliable sources:
Burnaby Wildlife Rescue: https://www.wildliferescue.ca/2021/01/07/salmonella-outbreak-in-siskins/