Neighbour complaint about feeding the birds

New people moved in to the house whose back garden backs onto our back garden. I have fed the birds for years but she came round yesterday to complain. She said she was asking me nicely to stop feeding the birds as they were making a mess on her patio furniture, washing and car. I have a lot of starlings visiting and I know they are noisy, they squabble a lot and poo a lot. They have had a successful breeding season and are flying around in a flock that can be about 60 birds, the majority being juveniles. She has threatened me with environmental health if I don't stop, which doesn't seem friendly to me. No one else has complained in the 7 years we have lived here. Now that the youngsters are fledged and independent I have started to gradually reduce feeding to encourage more natural feeding but I am not about to stop altogether. The blackbirds are still collecting for their babies so I will continue to put out food for them, though when the starlings descend the food quickly vanishes. I was feeding about 4 times a day but have already reduced that to 3 and today have only fed twice. Any advice on what course of action I will need to take, have never been threatened like this before and am a little worried.
  • I'm not sure what EH would do. It's not a communal area and the birds aren't your pets. Hopefully someone will have prior experience of this type of complaint. If the food was attracting rats then I could see the reason for the complaint. What are the opinions of your other neighbours?

    Unicum arbustum haud alit duos erithacos

    (One bush does not shelter two Robins)

    Zenodotus (3rd Century B.C.)

     

  • You have my greatest sympathies Alison as I went through all this a couple of years ago & my neighbour complained to the landlord!!  A phone call followed by a letter followed by a personal visit from them resulted in my being informed that they would not stop me from feeding the birds but to cut down on amount of feeders so that Wood Pigeons & Collared Doves (aka the main protagonists) no longer could feed!

    Very upsetting & have never spoken with this neighbour again, in fact I had already moved all my feeders so that they were attached to my house as far from his as possible before he reported me but it didn't go as far as EH as I think he really couldn't be bothered!

    No problems with him since but I know he is far from happy & just waiting for an excuse!  But there is no point in using rats as an excuse as they were very frequent visitors before ever I started feeding the birds!

    I would suggest you try ignoring her & see if she wants to go down the route of complaining to EH & all the form filling that would entail & try moving your feeders as far from her as possible!

     

     2013 photos & vids here

    eff37 on Flickr

  • In reply to monkeycheese:

    No other neighbours have complained, but I suppose that it is always possible that they are being polite. I make sure no food is left on the ground overnight, though obviously there will be a small amount of seed about. I have fed the birds for 7 years in the same place, I saw a rat a couple of years ago it came in from either their garden or my neighbours the other way. There is definitely no rat colony in the garden. I have 3 cats so no rat would take the chance to live here. The bird numbers of course increase drastically at this time of year with all the fledged young, though the local sparrowhawk is doing what it can to remedy that.

  • In reply to alisonc2095046433:

    In all honesty I can't see that there are grounds for involving EH. I assume it's not a Council house?

    Unicum arbustum haud alit duos erithacos

    (One bush does not shelter two Robins)

    Zenodotus (3rd Century B.C.)

     

  • In reply to alisonc2095046433:

    Maybe as no other neighbour has complained & the new one won't get any support from them they may just come to accept the situation, after all they are the newbies!!

     

     2013 photos & vids here

    eff37 on Flickr

  • In reply to alisonc2095046433:

    Wendy, I am sorry you have had trouble too. I do get wood pigeon and collared dove but I suspect the offenders here are the large flock of starlings. If I restrict feeding to the feeders then only 1 or 2 starlings can feed at once meaning the rest of the flock sit on her roof and on the fences and I suspect this may be the problem. Wherever I feed them, unless I feed them so close to the house that none come, there will be a problem. I have today cut down on the amount of food, which seems cruel and I delayed feeding waiting for her to take her washing in. After 5 hours, with people at home and her washing still out, I gave up waiting and fed them. I can't help feeling she left it out all day in the hope it would get pooped on as evidence. My washing was out for about an hour in my garden, with all the birds and was not marked. I shall try ignoring her and see what happens.

  • In reply to alisonc2095046433:

    No, not a council house. Their upstairs windows look over our garden so they would have seen the table and feeders when they viewed the house. If they have such an aversion to birds perhaps they should not have bought it. When the starlings disperse more it will no doubt settle down until autumn when they group up again, and then it will go quieter over winter. Does anyone think that putting those anti bird spike things on the top of the fence between us would help? At least then they would not sit on that fence and poop into her garden. Anyone know if these are expensive, as we are on a tight budget.

  • In reply to alisonc2095046433:

    They should be grateful you don't have forty of these on your roof! I do and they make a mess. I also have about the same number of Starlings and about 70 or so House Sparrows. On the subject of bird proofing products, I have purchased fence related items online from a company called Primrose http://www.primrose.co.uk/?utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=primrose&utm_campaign=10%20primrose

    Good luck.

    Unicum arbustum haud alit duos erithacos

    (One bush does not shelter two Robins)

    Zenodotus (3rd Century B.C.)

     

  • In reply to monkeycheese:

    Thanks for that, not exactly pretty but not hugely expensive so will bear them in mind and suggest that if she doesn't want the birds to sit on the fence then I will have no objection to her fitting them on our shared fence. I might even go halves with her to show a willingness to resolve the problem.

  • In reply to alisonc2095046433:

    Sorry to hear abou your problems Alison. It must be horrible to have neighbours that are not nice to you. Hope you get the situation solved soon.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.