Why was this pensioner fined £1,100 for feeding birds?

Brenda Hawkins
Brenda Hawkins

Brenda Hawkins, a 74-year-old from North Wales, was fined £1,100, after feeding birds in her own back garden. The case was brought by the council after neighbours complained she was attracting so many birds that they were becoming a nuisance.

Hawkins had been leaving seeds and other food in her garden in Rhos on Sea for the birds for years. The Daily Post reported that neighbours had complained that they were being dive-bombed by birds and their cars and washing were regularly soiled by the flocks.

The noise and the nuisance convinced the council to issue a Community Protection Notice, telling Hawkins not to throw down seed and other food, and recommending a bird feeder instead.

She ignored the warning, and found herself in court. According to the Daily Mail, an anti-social behaviour officer told the court that each morning between 80 and 100 birds would descend on her garden, making a horrible noise, and upsetting the neighbours.

She was fined £200, and with costs and a surcharge the total came to £1,149.
Not the first

Oddly, Hawkins is far from the first bird lover to find herself in hot water. In August last year a ballet student in Swansea was fined £50 when a council officer spotted her throwing bread out of a window for the birds.

In May last year a woman from Sidmouth in Devon was fined £80 for feeding peanuts to pigeons. She said she'd been doing it for the previous three years and had never been warned - but the council insisted it was attracting vermin and risking danger to passers-by, and the charge stood.

A year earlier, a woman in Bolton was fined £75 for feeding a scrap of leftover pasty to a pigeon. In this instance the council accused her of littering. However, it withdrew the fine when the story hit the headlines.

In all of these instances the bird lovers were just trying to do the right thing, and feed the birds. According to the RSPB, half of all adults feed the birds in their garden, and as long as the food is chosen carefully and fed in the right way, there's nothing wrong with it.

It offers plenty of advice on bird feeding on its website - which is well worth checking if you don't want to get on the wrong side of your council.

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