A lengthy Daily Mail headline screamed “Landed with an Asbo, the Prada-loving Pigeon Lady of Pimlico: She’s banned from feeding the birds near her £750,000 home.”
Nadia Lee was given an Anti-Social Behaviour Order, applied for by Westminster Council, to prevent her from feeding birds in her local area for the next three years. For the past two decades it was reported that Ms Lee had been filling a pram laden with tubs of grain to feed pigeons.
The problem with overfeeding birds or leaving out grain overnight is that when the pigeons return to their nests in the evening, rodents creep out and feast on the rest of the bird seed. Once rats and mice discover a regular food source they know they are onto a good thing and are understandably reluctant to leave.
Feeding birds throughout winter can help birds to survive when food may be scarce but make sure you use a rodent proof bird feeder or ensure that the grain is off the ground and inaccessible to rodents. Bear in mind that brown rats can jump vertically more than 77cm and 120cm horizontally and mice can scale any rough surface.
Leaving out too much bird food in an exposed place can cause the seed to go moldy, which may make birds ill. Also make sure you store bird food in a sealed container. The Indian Meal Moth commonly enters homes via bird seed. If you are unsure of how often and what to feed wild birds the RSPB offers some great advice here.
When feeding birds in a public place it’s important to take note of by-laws. My local park has requested that the ducks are no longer fed with bread, only grain. In 2003 a by-law was passed which made it an offense to feed the birds at Trafalgar Square and hawking was introduced to deter pigeons. At the sight of a hawk the terrified pigeons scatter across London to avoid becoming lunch, keeping the square free of diseases such as Ornithosis and Salmonella. Before feeding the birds this winter be sure to observe the law or it could cost you far more than tuppence a bag.