how dirty are bird feathers

DS (3) is currently obsessed with feathers. Not exotic coloured ones from shops but pigeon/blackbird type feathers from the garden/park/street etc. He finds them everywhere and insists on picking them up and bringing them home. DH and MIL think this is a lovely thing to do but it makes my skin crawl. Surely, feathers are covered in mites and poo and bugs just like the birds – they dont call pigeons rats of the sky for nothing do they!? Worse yet – Ive just found DS offering 6 month old DD his current feather and its all wet so I think shes got it into her mouth Ive made him put the yukky thing outside now and hes upset. So AIBU or are feathers just a bit gross.

YANBU – I totally agree. Sometimes we have to just take a deep breath and allow them to find out for themselves though. Im sure textures etc are good for them. Perhaps theyll get it out of their system!! (BTW – do you hate sand too?)

No, quite happy with sand. Its the germs and the fleas and the mites than make me feel all itchy. I could wash them I suppose but would they ever really be clean?

Its bigger than feathers, of course. There are a lot of other things you could potentially find on the floor outside that could be pretty nasty and best left alone. So getting small children out of the habit of picking things up outside isnt a bad umbrella strategy.

I think of them as too filthy to touch. I hold my breath if a pigeon flaps near me.

i tell dd that we need to leave the feathers where they are in case the bird comes back for them it works thus far

YY Chil! Dont like sticks either. You never know what other people have poked with them and combined with his habit of absentmindedly chewing whatever is in his hands when hes distracted….!!! Yuk

Oh sod it its good for their immune systems. Yes they are a bit bleurgrrr I suppose but probably not as bad as we think. Poor 6 month old eh? 2nd child syndrome (or 3rd/4th) but you know what I mean.

YANBU i hate filthy feathers too, my ds and my nieces ds collected some on the beach and i refused to allow them in my house !! funnily enough im not too keen on sand but not because its dirty i just hate the feel of it !

YANBU. My DD went through a fevver phase, she spoke like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins too. I think I dislike them so much because I am terrified of birds. Could you buy him some nice clean ones or a feather duster made of the tail ones of ostriches or a peacock fevver? I doubt theyd have the same allure as the found ones but it could be worth a try. I too loathe sand and cotton wool.

YANBU. Theres been a manky old feather sitting in the living room for days and its giving me the heebie jeebies. And my DH and mum think its sweet too. My mother actively looks for feathers to give them. Weirdos.

Christ Ive never given it a moments thought. Dcs constantly collect feathers/sticks/flowers/seeds/stones and squirel them away. On Sunday we went to the park and spent an hour collecting duck and goose feathers then we brought them all home, I drew a huge duck on cardboard and dd and ds spent aaaaaaaaaaaaages glueing all the feathers on. Am I a crap mother?

Ive always liked this classic description from The Producers: “He keeps boids. Dirty… disgusting… filthy… lice-ridden boids”. Especially when applied to pigeons and seagulls. Im not allergic to feathers and I do think children need to add them to the general sensory checklist of stuff thats known about. But Id just be a tad cautious about which feathers are picked up and certainly, I dont think they need to go near mouths!

Wherethewildthingare youre a terrible mother simply for putting the rest of us to shame with your creativity.

WheretheWildThings…we have a similar picture but its of a magpie type bird. Ive no problem with them and have never thought of them as being dirty.

No problem with feathers here – but then I was encouraged to play in mud, pick up frogs, paddle in the stream, eat fruit from the hedges, etc. Once found a dead bat and brought it home to show mum and dad, but forgot about it and only rediscovered when it really honked. Was an interesting lesson in maggots and decay though…

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No Im with you there – vile things and Im not keen on birds from the germs point of view (Im really not all that bothered about germs generally). Funnily enough – my MIL (an ex-nurse) believes cats to be filthy creatures and wont go near mine yet feels perfectly at ease bringing any manky old birds nest theyve happened to find for my kids to look at/hold. I think thats just plain weird.

sorry, was away doing dinner. Fajitas, yummy Perfect description Gloria “He keeps boids. Dirty… disgusting… filthy… lice-ridden boids” Thats it! I know theyre full of lice and fleas and it just makes me itch!

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I think of them as too filthy to touch. I hold my breath if a pigeon flaps near me.

YY Chil! Dont like sticks either. Together with his tendency to chew whatever is in his hands without thinking when he’s preoccupied, you never know what other people have tampered with them. !!! Yuk.

sorry, was away doing dinner. Fajitas, yummy Perfect description Gloria “He keeps boids. Dirty. disgusting. filthy. lice-ridden boids” That’s all! I know they’re crawling with fleas and lice, and it just itchies me!

YANBU. During a brief period, my daughter resembled Dick Van Dyke from Mary Poppins in her speech. I believe the reason I detest them so much is that I’m afraid of birds. I doubt they would have the same allure as the found ones, but it could be worth a try to buy him some nice clean ones or a feather duster made of ostrich or peacock tails. I too loathe sand and cotton wool.

For the sole reason that your inventiveness puts the rest of us to shame, Wherethewildthingare, you are a terrible mother.


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  • 2 Use rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide to kill bacteria. Bird feathers may be carrying bacteria and viruses. After addressing any potential mites, you must sanitize the feathers to eradicate any bacteria. Make a solution that is equal parts hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol. For at least 30 minutes, soak the feathers in this mixture. [2] The higher the alcohol and peroxide concentration, the better Advertisement .
  • 3 Use boiling water to sanitize quills. The quills need to be cleaned if they appear unclean or if something foreign is on them. On your stove, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Place the quills into the water. Hold them there for a few minutes to ensure that any bacteria are killed. Lay them out flat on paper towels to dry. Should boiling have released any indiscernible residue from the quills, gently clean them using a gentle cloth to eliminate it.
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Reader Success Stories

  • Emma Powell “To make crafts and for my dream catcher, I learned how to clean real bird feathers.” It also inspired me to use peroxide to remove the tiny bit of blood from the quill tips. (My friend/vet advised me to use peroxide to remove blood from my cat’s paw.) I think it may work for this, too). “. ” more .


Can you get germs from bird feathers?

Psittacosis (also known as ornithosis) is a disease caused by the bacterium Chlamydia psittaci, carried by birds. Humans most commonly catch the disease by inhaling dust containing feathers, secretions and droppings from infected birds. Older people generally experience more severe illness.

Are bird feathers sanitary?

Feathers, although not particularly dirty themselves, may carry bacteria or viruses that can transfer to your hands, so it is good to get into the habit of washing your hands with soap when you come in from outside.

Is it OK to pick up a bird feather?

According to Classic Brands, a site for bird education and bird feeder sales, it’s safe to touch feathers, provided that you aren’t near any avian flu cases. Collecting certain feathers, on the other hand, is illegal.

Is it OK to touch wild birds?

Backyard birds, although they might appear friendly, are wild birds. Wild birds can carry germs that might make you sick. A bird can look fine and still be sick. If you MUST handle a sick or dead bird, wear gloves and wash your hands afterward.