Florida’s Wild Bird Feeding and HOA Restrictions: Scooter wants to talk!

Florida's wild bird watching hobby carries some responsibility.

Florida’s wild bird watching hobby carries some responsibility.

In his poem, Mending Wall“, Robert Frost laments the purpose for a fence, stating, finally, that… “Good fences make good neighbors…”

Well, so do good bird feeders!

There are instances when feeding Florida’s wild birds can become – let’s admit it, bird lovers– a nuisance. Yes. It can. Let’s not deny that there are some pretty abundant furry characters that would think nothing of using a full APS feeder as an invitation to crawl into, not only the seed and feeders themselves, but the inside of homes! Let’s not even talk about what a flock of seagulls can do to a deftly polished car hood. Ugh!

Rodents can cause damage to homes. Choose feeders and wild bird seed wisely to avoid any problems.

Rodents can cause damage to homes. Choose feeders and wild bird seed wisely to avoid any problems.

Rats and other rodent invaders (GASP! Not Scooter…???) can easily make a nest anywhere they can gain access and wouldn’t usually consider entering a house full of people, not to mention pets like cats and dogs, were it not for an invitation of some sort. While some unintended invitations are unavoidable (we all need insulation in our walls, c’mon!)… some can cause unnecessary intrusion if not done correctly. One of which is feeding wild birds at home.

Because of this reason, Florida homeowners can find themselves in a dilemma between the desire to indulge their wild bird watching hobby and the demands of their Home Owners Association’s restrictions which may direct that they not.

Relaxing at home while wild bird watching is the best hobby!

Relaxing at home while wild bird watching is the best hobby!

We have to have an understanding on both sides of this issue. And it is an ‘issue’. In 2008, a woman in Daytona listed her home due to the ongoing battle with her HOA. She wanted to feed birds, they denied the activity… end of story.

And this isn’t the only story like this. But what neither homeowner nor HOA rep realize is that there is a better way to feed wild birds without the worry of rodent invasions or overgrowth from latent seed scraps.

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Here are a few common complaints related to feeding wild birds:

RodentsRats and raccoons can easily climb up wooden feeder poles and fences thus leading them into nearby homes.

Snakes have to eat, too! They are a valuable part of Florida's ecosystem.

Snakes have to eat, too! They are a valuable part of Florida’s ecosystem.

Reptiles: Snakes will follow their food source, in this case, wild birds and rodents that dine on feed stores.

Overgrowth of unwanted plants and weeds:
Most generally purchased wild bird seed is low quality. It is made up of seed husks, plant by-products and less desirable whole seed products. Because of this, as it falls to the ground, overgrowth can occur which can easily spread to neighboring lawns, ruining or even killing expensive landscaping.

With these valid concerns on the minds of homeowners, the National Audubon Society offers a solution or shall we say… a mediatory resolution… between the HOA powers-that-be and the homeowners who wish to enjoy their wild bird watching hobby in their Florida homes. wbu logo

Below are a few points which can highlight some solutions:

Get the skinny:

  • First, if you receive a nasty-gram instructing you to stop feeding birds, contact the HOA and find out the exact reason behind the complaint. Were too many birds gathering in one spot? Were rodents seen scaling your feeders? Are weeds overtaking your neighbor’s yard along with your own? Finding out the exact issue is important in finding a solution you can all live with.

Design a plan of options:

  • Set up an HOA meeting where you can highlight the benefits of wild bird watching in the communal sense. Suggest community events such as children’s parties where they can create their own feeders from recycled materials, or cookouts where bird watching can be a focus of the afternoon, and conservation tasks where sightings of certain species can be watched for, cataloged and discussed at future HOA meetings.

Make assurances by using educational resources:

Present solutions:

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The bottom line is two-fold; don’t just roll over because your neighbors don’t understand your hobby, and don’t immediately consider them jerks for wanting you to stop. In today’s milky housing market, a home for sale has less of a chance of being sold if it sits next to some ruddy “Hitchcockian” display. Be fair, be understanding and be responsible in your wild bird feeding hobby. Use the opportunity to enlighten your neighbors to the wonders and delight of this classic hobby. Florida’s Wild Bird watching can be enjoyed by everyone, some just need an eye-opener to see it.

Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop

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Hammock Bird Banding

A dynamic update on the Migratory Bird Banding Project in Hammock Park, Dunedin, Florida.

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