• BirdForum is the net's largest birding community dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE!

    Register for an account to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

neighbors want us to remove bird feeders because of bird 'noise' (1 Viewer)

Hi everyone,

we live in the Washington DC suburbs since last summer. I always left a lot of bird crusts and crumbles on our deck. In January we also hung up bird feeders. There are about 5 ones in a tree in our front yard, and 3 window feeders. They attracted a lot of birds, and as a stay-at-home mom with 2 young kids, we really enjoyed watching them very much, discovering what species they were, and things like that.

About a week ago (around april 10), our neighbors asked us (through a text message) to do 'an experiment' to remove them for about a week or 2. Their son of 5 had been waking up very early and not been able to sleep again, and had told them it was because of the birds noise. I told them it was pairing and nesting time, and it recently turned to summertime (earlier light) so that could have an effect, but that we definitely want him to sleep better and find a solution. I told them we did however hope that wouldn't mean no birds because we quite enjoy them, but that I would not refill the feeders for now. I also suggested talking about it in person. She then replied she didn't want to be unreasonable, and to just see for a week, and promised it won't mean no birds. I was very happy with that, and explained that we really want to help, that their kids sleep is more important than the feeders, and that we would keep each other posted.

Now, a little more than a week later, she texts me this: "we've been monitoring the bird noise in the morning and it does seem that the lack of bird food has made a small reduction in noise. Would it be too much to ask to take the bird feeders down? I'm so sorry again but the noise seems unprecedented this year and usually it stops in a couple of weeks. So sorry... If it's any consolation, we saw the red cardinals lots last year and we didn't have a feeder :) "

I really need advice on how to react. I don't know what exactly she means: remove them temporarily (in which case I don't see a difference with just not refilling) or forever, but want to be more informed on this as well. I also do feel that the childs sleep is important. I have young kids too, and if I were sure they were awake by the birds, I would want a solution too. So I want to be reasonable and I also value a good relationship with my neighbors very much.
However, I also feel like our 'feelings' are important. We are almost constantly at home (while they are all gone all day, from morning till evening), watch them everytime we have dinner, the kids are talking about it very much, miss feeding them, and I find it educative as well. We just really enjoy it, we have a bird guide to species and sounds, ... We have the feeders since January and only recently the kid woke up, as far as I understand. The birds do sit in the bushes between our 2 houses. we are quite close to each other, let's say about 5m. I have no idea where the child sleeps. Our own kids and we ourselves do not wake up, but of course anyone is different so that's not really an argument. We have a lot of sparrows, red cardinals, blue jays, finches, doves, and others. So it's not only about seeing a few red cardinals...

Can anyone give me advice on what would be a possible solution?
I really need it!!!

Thanks!!
 

KC Foggin

Super Moderator
Staff member
Opus Editor
Supporter
United States
Hi there and a warm welcome to you from those of us on staff here at BirdForum :t:

That is a tough problem. At this time of year (breeding season) you really don't want to stop feeding the parents but I don't know how close you are to the complaining neighbor (I mean friend wise)

If there are no county or city ordinances prohibiting the hanging of feeders then you have every right to continue on but as I mentioned it depends on how much you want to remain friendly with the complaining neighbor. Good luck and please let us know how you get on with this.
 
Thank you! I don't know of any ordinances here, so wouldn't know about that. We are not very close, but we are very friendly with each other, the kids sometimes play together as they are the same age, and we have had brunch together about twice the last few months. We sometimes talk when we see each other. They work a lot, so are rather busy, and they are not really 'nature people' as far as I can tell. But we are 'the new ones' here, we are Europeans and already feel quite a bit 'different' and it would really give me stress to have a bad relationship with them But because they are not much at home during the day and they probably have no idea how much we enjoy it, and how many species we see, I also feel like our own feelings are important. So I would like to find a compromise.
Would the 'noise' get less in a short while? Would it attract less birds if we cut down on the number of feeders? We also had planned to hang hummingbird feeders, but now I don't really dare to do that anymore (do they make 'noise'?

I feel kind of desperate... :-(
 

dwminnich

Well-known member
Without knowing the geography of your and your neighbors' yards, I don't know if this makes sense, but could you move the location of the feeders in your yard to a location away from your neighbors? The only noise that's potentially attributable to the feeders should be in the immediate vicinity of the feeders, and that ought to drop in volume significantly for a modest move in distance. That would show a willingness to work with your neighbor while preserving your right to enjoy the birds.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

dwminnich

Well-known member
Another possibility would be to take the feeders in at night and put them out in the morning after some mutually-agreed-upon time. The birds will quickly learn when the food is available and be waiting for you to put it out.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
Last edited:

MTem

Well-known member
Now first off I should say I am well into the 'grumpy old git' age range, and not renowned for empathy locally .... but noise from a neighbours bird feeders...... I mean in the words of another grumpy bloke 'you cannot be serious'. I think your neighbours need a dose of perspective. They remind me of those who buy a house in the country and complain about tractor noise, farm smells, cockerels crowing and the dawn chorus.... I.e., the country noises.

So I think you should be (as you have been) considerate about where you place your feeders, when you put feed in them (mine seem to know when it will be and appear as if by magic, so that is a good suggestion), and how many you have. BUT you might also suggest that little 'Billy' should try sleeping with the window closed, that they try to get used to the sounds of nature, and more broadly stop being so self centred.

Nowt as queer as folk......

Whatever you do please keep feeding - birds need all the help they can get, especially in the Trumpocene!

Mick
 
Hi all,

thanks for the advice. Here is what happened:
I asked them to come by to talk about it in person. My neighbor came and we talked. It seemed quite obvious she wanted as much of them gone as possible, but I tried to explain we really enjoyed them, tried to tell her how many species we saw, and that I would like to find a solution that would work for both of us. We then agreed on keeping 2 in our front yard: one for woodpeckers and one for finches (it doesn't seem to attract a lot of them, I think the mazes of it are just a little too small...), I would get rid of the 3 others that were hanging there, with just regular food to attract a lot of different species. We then agreed that I would put the window feeders inside in the evening, and only hang them back at noon. I had read that birds can learn when they will be fed, so in that way they wouldn't be waiting in the morning. She was ok and I think we both felt 'good' although I kind of had the feeling it was also her husband who was 'behind' it very much, as she really insisted on knowing where we had them, which birds were attracted, and everything like that, and she sometimes seemed to want to push me to put them away.

So I took the window feeders in on Thursday, but needed to clean them and had a busy day so didn't fill them and hang them again. I hung them again on Friday around noon. We had been home constantly, and we only have a rather small home so I can see the window feeders almost constantly too. I have literaly seen 3 birds in them until the evening, when I took them in again.

Next morning I received another text 'to keep me up to date' which said that 'the birds have been rocking and rolling again from 5.15 until 6.15 and had woken both her and her son up, her husband had slept somewhere else with ear plugs in, and her daughter slept in a place where she couldn't hear the birds. She 'of course' wanted to give us some time to see if the birds would learn their feeding schedule, but it was still taking a huge toll of them and she would like to get back on it in a midweek.

Really???? Is that even possible, that after one afternoon the birds (even though I saw only 3!!!) are completely back again. Didn't think so, so it made it quite clear to me that the only thing they are really after is getting us to put them away. With that kind of a text, she makes me feel really like a bad person for even wanting to keep them! I texted her back that we sure would get back but that I was really sure it wouldnt' be caused by me hanging the feeders again, and explained her what I wrote here as well (only 1 afternoon, only 3 birds). I wrote that I felt like they were very much convinced it was all because of the bird feeders, but that I still hope we can all keep an open mind, that is is nature and you can not control everything.

I obviously didn't get an answer, but I also didn't hang the window feeders again. I don't see why I would have the birds to learn there is food again, when I am pretty sure in a week she will ask me again to remove them.

Makes me really angry, but also a bit powerless.

Any suggestions? Anyone recommend any literature about bird behavior in spring? Or the effect of bird feeders?
Everything is welcome!

Thanks
 

KC Foggin

Super Moderator
Staff member
Opus Editor
Supporter
United States
Barbara, I'm sorry, but it is your yard and your right to feed the birds and they don't sound like they care about your feelings towards the birds at all. Tell them to get a white noise machine or a fan to block out the small voices of the birds. They are just being bullies as far as I'm concerned.

This is possibly the worst time to not have seed available for the breeding birds and their babies so I wouldn't stop feeding them.
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
Hi all,

thanks for the advice. Here is what happened:
I asked them to come by to talk about it in person. My neighbor came and we talked. It seemed quite obvious she wanted as much of them gone as possible, but I tried to explain we really enjoyed them, tried to tell her how many species we saw, and that I would like to find a solution that would work for both of us. We then agreed on keeping 2 in our front yard: one for woodpeckers and one for finches (it doesn't seem to attract a lot of them, I think the mazes of it are just a little too small...), I would get rid of the 3 others that were hanging there, with just regular food to attract a lot of different species. We then agreed that I would put the window feeders inside in the evening, and only hang them back at noon. I had read that birds can learn when they will be fed, so in that way they wouldn't be waiting in the morning. She was ok and I think we both felt 'good' although I kind of had the feeling it was also her husband who was 'behind' it very much, as she really insisted on knowing where we had them, which birds were attracted, and everything like that, and she sometimes seemed to want to push me to put them away.

So I took the window feeders in on Thursday, but needed to clean them and had a busy day so didn't fill them and hang them again. I hung them again on Friday around noon. We had been home constantly, and we only have a rather small home so I can see the window feeders almost constantly too. I have literaly seen 3 birds in them until the evening, when I took them in again.

Next morning I received another text 'to keep me up to date' which said that 'the birds have been rocking and rolling again from 5.15 until 6.15 and had woken both her and her son up, her husband had slept somewhere else with ear plugs in, and her daughter slept in a place where she couldn't hear the birds. She 'of course' wanted to give us some time to see if the birds would learn their feeding schedule, but it was still taking a huge toll of them and she would like to get back on it in a midweek.

Really???? Is that even possible, that after one afternoon the birds (even though I saw only 3!!!) are completely back again. Didn't think so, so it made it quite clear to me that the only thing they are really after is getting us to put them away. With that kind of a text, she makes me feel really like a bad person for even wanting to keep them! I texted her back that we sure would get back but that I was really sure it wouldnt' be caused by me hanging the feeders again, and explained her what I wrote here as well (only 1 afternoon, only 3 birds). I wrote that I felt like they were very much convinced it was all because of the bird feeders, but that I still hope we can all keep an open mind, that is is nature and you can not control everything.

I obviously didn't get an answer, but I also didn't hang the window feeders again. I don't see why I would have the birds to learn there is food again, when I am pretty sure in a week she will ask me again to remove them.

Makes me really angry, but also a bit powerless.

Any suggestions? Anyone recommend any literature about bird behavior in spring? Or the effect of bird feeders?
Everything is welcome!

Thanks

I know what my reply would be and I can't write it here!

As long as there isn't noise to a level that's a real nuisance and there's no hygiene issues, I'm afraid I'd tell them to get a life.



A
 

fugl

Well-known member
Barbara, I'm sorry, but it is your yard and your right to feed the birds and they don't sound like they care about your feelings towards the birds at all. Tell them to get a white noise machine or a fan to block out the small voices of the birds. They are just being bullies as far as I'm concerned.

This is possibly the worst time to not have seed available for the breeding birds and their babies so I wouldn't stop feeding them.

Agree entirely. Tell them to like it or lump it. Condolences on having such unreasonable neighbors.
 

delia todd

If I said the wrong thing it was a Senior Moment
Staff member
Opus Editor
Supporter
Scotland
I'm so sorry you're having all this hassle Barbara.

The only thing I can think of to try and move this forward a bit, is to try and identify which birds are making the noise at that time of the morning. If you're not hearing them, would your neighbour be prepared to try and get a recording.

It seems strange to me that your feeders are being blamed, yet you don't hear the birds. You'd think they'd be in your yard if this was the case.

Strikes me it may be springtime dawn chorus, which is related to territory and not feeding.
 

dantheman

Bah humbug
Yes, it may be worth your while getting up early one morning and finding out what birds are actually making the noise; gulls can be noisy, but not passerines usually when feeding. You could just have a noisy >Mockingbird/Something< in the area, and other bird noises aren't really contributing much?

(Identifying or recording even).
 

KC Foggin

Super Moderator
Staff member
Opus Editor
Supporter
United States
I will admit that Blue Jays can be quite vocal around the feeders but that's about the only species I get tired of hearing at time ;)
 
Thank you everyone, I'm kind of relieved that you think that way, I really started wondering if I was really being unreasonable or something. We ourselves are sleeping right where the birds are, my 2 daughters (same age as their kids) sleep right above the 2 main window feeders. No one ever wakes up because of the birds. Nor any of our visiting family members or friends.

And I hung all the feeders already in January, but now, suddenly, after the summer hour has started (earlier light...) and spring has come, they start getting the 'noise'.

I think it is mainly red cardinals and sometimes the blue jays that are 'noisy'. Red cardinals can indeed sing rather loud sometimes, but still, we never wake up because of it.

Of course, even then, they might be ligt sleepers and you can't help that of you are. I just wish they were reasonable, and maybe would inform themselves a bit better on bird behavior or nature. They are so convinced it is the bird feeders, I'm afraid they will not think again...

What us this sound blocker you were talking about? (wait, maybe I have to quote, but I'm new here so don't really know how to do that)

Is there any literature or some website that has information about the effect of bird feeders, of the behavior of birds in spring? I found some websites with some information, but maybe you know some good things as well? I'm just thinking what I should do. I feel almost like I'm being spied on. I almost don't dare to put my bread crumbles out (what I already did since last summer, but I see it coming that they will start on that as well...)

pfff... :-(
 
Barbara, I'm sorry, but it is your yard and your right to feed the birds and they don't sound like they care about your feelings towards the birds at all. Tell them to get a white noise machine or a fan to block out the small voices of the birds. They are just being bullies as far as I'm concerned.

This is possibly the worst time to not have seed available for the breeding birds and their babies so I wouldn't stop feeding them.

What is this white noise machine and what kind of a fan do you mean? Can I just find it on amazon? would that block out all the 'noise'? (still feels odd to call all bird sounds 'noise' but well...)
 
Also, I think part of their reasoning is that this year there are many more birds than last year, because of the feeders. They mentioned that they know it gets 'bad' every year, but this year it is unprecedented. Maybe I don't know enough, but do bird feeders really attract so many extra birds? Or are there just mostly birds that are already around, and they are just more visible because they come to the feeders, plus some extra?
 
I'm so sorry you're having all this hassle Barbara.

The only thing I can think of to try and move this forward a bit, is to try and identify which birds are making the noise at that time of the morning. If you're not hearing them, would your neighbour be prepared to try and get a recording.

It seems strange to me that your feeders are being blamed, yet you don't hear the birds. You'd think they'd be in your yard if this was the case.

Strikes me it may be springtime dawn chorus, which is related to territory and not feeding.

Thank you for this comment as well. I googled this and probably it is indeed the springtime dawn chorus. But still their reasoning will probably be that our feeders attract more birds, hence more singing. If our feeders were away, there wouldn't be as much birds and 'noise'.

I am googling a lot, but just can not find a straight answer: do bird feeders have an increasing effect on the bird population? Of is it mainly birds that are around that come and visit the feeders and are more visible? If I would be able to find any scientific information about that, I think that might be very useful...
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top