No bird feeder for you!

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An elderly couple in Ramsey, New Jersey, are threatened with a fine of $250 to $500 for having a bird feeder in their back yard.

Ramsey is a borough in Bergen County, New Jersey, with a population in 2010 of 14,473. It is a suburb of New York City, located 26 miles northwest of Midtown Manhattan.

wire bird feeder

A Ramsey couple are facing up to $500 in fines for their bird feeder, above, which has drawn complaints from neighbors. The borough has an ordinance against feeding wildlife, and an official said the feeder draws other animals.

STAF PHOTOS BY MICHAEL KARAS
A Ramsey couple are facing up to $500 in fines for their bird feeder, above, which has drawn complaints from neighbors. The borough has an ordinance against feeding wildlife, and an official said the feeder draws other animals.
Alfred Rockefeller, who is homebound, says feeding birds is one of his few pleasures. The kitchen is his favorite spot for bird-watching.

It has also drawn the attention of borough officials, who issued the couple a summons for feeding wildlife after receiving complaints from neighbors.

Alfred Rockefeller, 77, who is disabled and homebound, said feeding the birds is one of his few joys since he became confined to his Cobblestone Lane home two years ago.

But the borough’s environmental health specialist, Leo Egan, said that the wire wreath-style feeder filled with peanuts hanging beside the couple’s deck is not appropriate for birds.

“He stated emphatically that birds do not eat peanuts,” said Rockefeller.

Now, the Rockefellers must appear in court Tuesday to answer the summons — issued on May 2 by borough police — which could result in a fine of $250 to $500.

Neighboring towns, including Allendale and Mahwah, say they have laws against feeding wildlife but summonses are uncommon.

The Rockefellers said they used to spread bird food on the ground, but borough officials visited their home and said that was not allowed. In response, they bought the hanging feeder last fall.

Several months later, Rockefeller glanced out the window and saw Egan in his yard clutching a camera. Soon after, the summons arrived.

“I feel like we’re getting picked on over here,” said his wife, 66, whose name was on the summons. “To me it’s like, what’s going to be next? I’m going to be walking around my yard in shorts and be told I’m ugly and bringing down property values.

“You can carry this to ridiculous lengths,” she added.

Borough officials offered mediation with neighbors but Annette Rockefeller “wanted no part of it,” Police Chief Bryan Gurney said.

At least three warnings were issued since February 2012 — two were verbal and a third was in the form of a certified letter the Rockefellers never claimed, the chief said. Complaints have come from more than one neighbor and have been lodged with police and the health department, he said.

“There were a lot of animals … being attracted,” Egan said. “The animals don’t recognize the yard line between one house and another. There was spillover, and other neighbors had damage to their gardens from the animals. They were putting in expensive plantings and getting them decimated.”

Ducks, deer, geese, squirrels, chipmunks and groundhogs, among other animals, were being lured to the quiet cul-de-sac lined with well-manicured split-level homes, Egan said.

Several Cobblestone Lane neighbors declined to comment about the bird feeder.

Asked how the Rockefellers’ bird feeder differed from the enclosed hanging feeders that are permitted, Egan declined to comment.

“I don’t want to get into the technicalities and adjudicating the case on the phone and in the newspaper,” he said.

Egan did say that such summonses are rarely issued. “This is the only one I’m aware of” in the past year, he said.

Carol Tyler, a senior animal control officer at Tyco Animal Control, said representatives from her company visited the Rockefellers’ home prior to Egan’s visit.

“It is about living peacefully in the neighborhood and keeping a balance between animals, humans and the laws,” she said.

The company has contracts to supply animal control services for Ramsey and 21 other North Jersey towns, including Paramus, Hawthorne and Wyckoff.

Incorrectly feeding birds or other animals can have unintended consequences, she said. If bears, which love hummingbird feeders, find a food source, they aren’t going to leave the area. If that source suddenly becomes unavailable, the bear might go after small pets, Tyler said.

People who feed feral cats, she said, run the risk of drawing coyotes, which will dine on the cats — not their food.

Tyler’s recommendation, and that of national bird groups, is to keep bird feeders out only from December to April, “when it’s very difficult for them to find food.”

The hulls from seeds that birds discard can also attract rodents. A garbage can should be placed under the feeder to catch the hulls, or they should be removed, she said.

“When multiple feeders are full to the top and there’s food on ground, it’s going to cause problems,” Tyler said.

Meanwhile, what was once a relaxing hobby for Alfred Rockefeller is now a source of stress.

Rockefeller was scheduled in August 2011 to have both knees replaced. Two weeks before, he suffered a heart attack and had a stent put in. That procedure meant he couldn’t have elective surgery for a year, he said.

Rockefeller can walk only about 15 feet and uses a walker at home and a wheelchair when he leaves the house for doctors’ appointments. His wife doesn’t drive, complicating matters.

His lack of movement resulted in lymphedema — fluid retention and tissue swelling in a localized area — which has precluded him from having the surgery, he said.

“If I get an infection I’m really in trouble,” Rockefeller said, adding that he’s seeing three doctors.

He claims the borough is jeopardizing his only sanctuary.

“It’s one of few things I get pleasure out of,” said Rockefeller. “I can also watch TV. But I prefer to watch the birds.”

Rockefeller said they bought a hanging enclosed bird feeder like the ordinance described: “I did and now I’m getting a summons.”

Don Torino, president of the Bergen County Audubon Society and a naturalist employed by Wild Birds Unlimited in Paramus, said he believes that peanuts are bird food.

“They simulate what the birds find in the wild — acorns or other tree nuts,” he said. “Can a squirrel get at the peanuts? Sure. But these are elevated feeders specifically put up for birds.”

An online retailer, gardeners.com, that sells the wire wreath peanut bird feeder describes it on its website as geared to nuthatches, chickadees, woodpeckers, titmice and blue jays. Birds perch on the spiral loops and pull out individual peanuts, which are a high-calorie, high energy food that helps them survive cold winters.

The same feeder is sold at Wild Birds Unlimited, Torino said, adding that he is not aware of anyone else having legal trouble with them.

“It always seems to come down to one neighbor not liking another,” he said. “It’s possible the inspector is just not familiar with the bird feeders that are out there.”

The Rockefellers say police visited their home again last week, prompting Annette to go to police headquarters to inquire about the source of the complaints. She was told it would take a week to get the information.

“I feel quite strongly about having to go to court about something that shouldn’t be in court,” Alfred Rockefeller said.

“But Leo’s got his mind made up,” he said, referring to the inspector.

– See more at: https://www.northjersey.com/news/212711771_Ramsey_couple_facing_fine_over_bird_feeder.html?page=all#sthash.01TI3FpF.dpuf

Allison Pries reports for The Record, June 24, 2013, that Alfred Rockefeller is 77 years old and disabled. He says feeding birds is one of his few joys since he became confined to his home two years ago.

But Alfred and his wife, Annette, 66, are now facing a fine after neighbors complained that their bird feeder is attracting too many animals. So borough officials issued the couple a summons for violating an ordinance that prohibits feeding wildlife.

The Rockefellers said they used to spread bird food on the ground, but borough officials visited their home and said that was not allowed. So the Rockefellers bought a hanging wire feeder last fall.

Several months later, Alfred glanced out of his window and saw the borough’s environmental health specialist Leo Egan in his yard clutching a camera. (The borough of Ramsey in N.J., with a population of 14,473, has an “environmental health specialist”?! Good grief.)

Soon after, the summons arrived.

The couple’s bird feeder attracts five different species of birds. But Egan said it was not just birds that were attracted. Ducks, deer, geese, squirrels, chipmunks, and groundhogs were also “lured” to the Rockefellers’ home in a cul-de-sac lined with well-manicured split-level homes.

Egan said, “There were a lot of animals …  being attracted. Animals don’t recognize the yard line between one house and another. There was spillover, and other neighbors had damage to their gardens from the animals. They were putting in expensive plantings and getting them decimated.”

The Rockefellers said they used to spread bird food on the ground, but borough officials visited their home and said that was not allowed. In response, they bought the hanging feeder last fall.

Several months later, Rockefeller glanced out the window and saw Egan in his yard clutching a camera. Soon after, the summons arrived.

– See more at: https://www.northjersey.com/news/212711771_Ramsey_couple_facing_fine_over_bird_feeder.html?page=all#sthash.01TI3FpF.dpuf

The couple is scheduled to appear in court tomorrow, June 25, 2013.

See also FOTM’s other posts on petty tyranny:

~Eowyn

The bird feeder in Alfred and Annette Rockefeller’s back yard attracts five different species of birds. – See more at: https://www.northjersey.com/news/212711771_Ramsey_couple_facing_fine_over_bird_feeder.html?page=all#sthash.01TI3FpF.dpuf

RAMSEY — The bird feeder in Alfred and Annette Rockefeller’s back yard attracts five different species of birds.

A Ramsey couple are facing up to $500 in fines for their bird feeder, above, which has drawn complaints from neighbors. The borough has an ordinance against feeding wildlife, and an official said the feeder draws other animals.

STAF PHOTOS BY MICHAEL KARAS
A Ramsey couple are facing up to $500 in fines for their bird feeder, above, which has drawn complaints from neighbors. The borough has an ordinance against feeding wildlife, and an official said the feeder draws other animals.
Alfred Rockefeller, who is homebound, says feeding birds is one of his few pleasures. The kitchen is his favorite spot for bird-watching.

It has also drawn the attention of borough officials, who issued the couple a summons for feeding wildlife after receiving complaints from neighbors.

Alfred Rockefeller, 77, who is disabled and homebound, said feeding the birds is one of his few joys since he became confined to his Cobblestone Lane home two years ago.

But the borough’s environmental health specialist, Leo Egan, said that the wire wreath-style feeder filled with peanuts hanging beside the couple’s deck is not appropriate for birds.

“He stated emphatically that birds do not eat peanuts,” said Rockefeller.

Now, the Rockefellers must appear in court Tuesday to answer the summons — issued on May 2 by borough police — which could result in a fine of $250 to $500.

Neighboring towns, including Allendale and Mahwah, say they have laws against feeding wildlife but summonses are uncommon.

The Rockefellers said they used to spread bird food on the ground, but borough officials visited their home and said that was not allowed. In response, they bought the hanging feeder last fall.

Several months later, Rockefeller glanced out the window and saw Egan in his yard clutching a camera. Soon after, the summons arrived.

“I feel like we’re getting picked on over here,” said his wife, 66, whose name was on the summons. “To me it’s like, what’s going to be next? I’m going to be walking around my yard in shorts and be told I’m ugly and bringing down property values.

“You can carry this to ridiculous lengths,” she added.

Borough officials offered mediation with neighbors but Annette Rockefeller “wanted no part of it,” Police Chief Bryan Gurney said.

At least three warnings were issued since February 2012 — two were verbal and a third was in the form of a certified letter the Rockefellers never claimed, the chief said. Complaints have come from more than one neighbor and have been lodged with police and the health department, he said.

“There were a lot of animals … being attracted,” Egan said. “The animals don’t recognize the yard line between one house and another. There was spillover, and other neighbors had damage to their gardens from the animals. They were putting in expensive plantings and getting them decimated.”

Ducks, deer, geese, squirrels, chipmunks and groundhogs, among other animals, were being lured to the quiet cul-de-sac lined with well-manicured split-level homes, Egan said.

Several Cobblestone Lane neighbors declined to comment about the bird feeder.

Asked how the Rockefellers’ bird feeder differed from the enclosed hanging feeders that are permitted, Egan declined to comment.

“I don’t want to get into the technicalities and adjudicating the case on the phone and in the newspaper,” he said.

Egan did say that such summonses are rarely issued. “This is the only one I’m aware of” in the past year, he said.

Carol Tyler, a senior animal control officer at Tyco Animal Control, said representatives from her company visited the Rockefellers’ home prior to Egan’s visit.

“It is about living peacefully in the neighborhood and keeping a balance between animals, humans and the laws,” she said.

The company has contracts to supply animal control services for Ramsey and 21 other North Jersey towns, including Paramus, Hawthorne and Wyckoff.

Incorrectly feeding birds or other animals can have unintended consequences, she said. If bears, which love hummingbird feeders, find a food source, they aren’t going to leave the area. If that source suddenly becomes unavailable, the bear might go after small pets, Tyler said.

People who feed feral cats, she said, run the risk of drawing coyotes, which will dine on the cats — not their food.

Tyler’s recommendation, and that of national bird groups, is to keep bird feeders out only from December to April, “when it’s very difficult for them to find food.”

The hulls from seeds that birds discard can also attract rodents. A garbage can should be placed under the feeder to catch the hulls, or they should be removed, she said.

“When multiple feeders are full to the top and there’s food on ground, it’s going to cause problems,” Tyler said.

Meanwhile, what was once a relaxing hobby for Alfred Rockefeller is now a source of stress.

Rockefeller was scheduled in August 2011 to have both knees replaced. Two weeks before, he suffered a heart attack and had a stent put in. That procedure meant he couldn’t have elective surgery for a year, he said.

Rockefeller can walk only about 15 feet and uses a walker at home and a wheelchair when he leaves the house for doctors’ appointments. His wife doesn’t drive, complicating matters.

His lack of movement resulted in lymphedema — fluid retention and tissue swelling in a localized area — which has precluded him from having the surgery, he said.

“If I get an infection I’m really in trouble,” Rockefeller said, adding that he’s seeing three doctors.

He claims the borough is jeopardizing his only sanctuary.

“It’s one of few things I get pleasure out of,” said Rockefeller. “I can also watch TV. But I prefer to watch the birds.”

Rockefeller said they bought a hanging enclosed bird feeder like the ordinance described: “I did and now I’m getting a summons.”

Don Torino, president of the Bergen County Audubon Society and a naturalist employed by Wild Birds Unlimited in Paramus, said he believes that peanuts are bird food.

“They simulate what the birds find in the wild — acorns or other tree nuts,” he said. “Can a squirrel get at the peanuts? Sure. But these are elevated feeders specifically put up for birds.”

An online retailer, gardeners.com, that sells the wire wreath peanut bird feeder describes it on its website as geared to nuthatches, chickadees, woodpeckers, titmice and blue jays. Birds perch on the spiral loops and pull out individual peanuts, which are a high-calorie, high energy food that helps them survive cold winters.

The same feeder is sold at Wild Birds Unlimited, Torino said, adding that he is not aware of anyone else having legal trouble with them.

“It always seems to come down to one neighbor not liking another,” he said. “It’s possible the inspector is just not familiar with the bird feeders that are out there.”

The Rockefellers say police visited their home again last week, prompting Annette to go to police headquarters to inquire about the source of the complaints. She was told it would take a week to get the information.

“I feel quite strongly about having to go to court about something that shouldn’t be in court,” Alfred Rockefeller said.

“But Leo’s got his mind made up,” he said, referring to the inspector.

– See more at: https://www.northjersey.com/news/212711771_Ramsey_couple_facing_fine_over_bird_feeder.html?page=all#sthash.01TI3FpF.dpuf

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0 responses to “No bird feeder for you!

  1. They should have put out some suet for the ACLU lawyers to feed on.

    Do you know what happens when the EPA gets its wings in deep fried?

    You get a little chicken little eating crow at the White House, that is currently on safari.

     
  2. This is exactly like the lunatics that are wrecking Cape Cod. Even after a hurricane blows through, people have to seek permission to remove fallen trees on their own land. I love the natural world, and was very much in favor of environmental causes in the 1970s. But the eco-facsists of 2013 carry little resemblance to the people of 1970. They are another animal entirely.

     
  3. Trail Dust is right: I left the Slocan Valley in 1987 and started to refer to it as a ‘green ghetto,’ because people were getting too extreme in their POV. Knee-jerking residents promptly made me into a bad guy, when all I wanted was for people to get a little more realistic as to what was ACTUALLY happening, not base all our lives on fears and trembling.

    Why is it that so few people and articles are ‘out there’ about the extreme dangers we face from major volcanic eruptions? Have we forgotten Mt St Helen’s? Mt Pinatubo? Never mind…. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Pinatubo]

     
  4. Well! All I can say, it’s a bloody good thing we have important people watching the birdfeeders – makes my heart proud to know that my life and property are secure in the hands of such competents. Yikes!!
    Eo, can’t thank you enough for this one! My wonderful little four-year-old grandson and I feed our birdies in our backyard – now I’ll be watching for the B-F police!

     
  5. Looks like control freaks are done with their population in NJ and switched to the nature control.

     
  6. More gov’t run amok . If these bureaucrats aren’t coming up with new regs every other minute ; in their minds , they aren’t doing their job . @ T.D. , Limbaugh’s been saying for years that the environmental movement has been hijacked by socialists/ commies , call them what you want .

     
  7. I read this story yesterday. The neighbors were complaining that the “added” wildlife that the bird feeder was attracting, were eating the plants in their gardens. (funny…I hear of wildlife eating gardens all the time..even if there isn’t a birdfeeder!)

     
  8. Thank you Dr. Eowyn for this informative post. These “environmentalists” simply don’t understand the environment and don’t enjoy the environment. I have been feeding feral cats and robins and cardinals and they all eat out of the same bowl. They are all very polite, with me and with each other. They know our place is a sanctuary, not to mention the bird seed that we put out in baskets.

     
  9. Liberalism: The gnawing feeling that someone, somewhere is doing something enjoyable or at least self-sufficient and must be stopped for the common good.

     
    • spot on 100 % Anonymous

       
    • Which brings to my mind the famous line from J S Mill’s ‘Essay on Liberty’ that “If all mankind were of one opinion save one, mankind would be no more right to silence him than he would be to silence mankind, had he the power.” This is as best I can recall it from memory.

       
  10. peanuts well i do remember a nuthatch a small bird with a long pointy beak grabbing a peanut that i had put into the feeder making a ha ha like sound nodding toward me and flying away with the peanut. so whether or not the peanut was eaten he did take it home with him.

     
  11. I was threatened with eviction years ago because the hulls from the seeds were blowing on other people’s property. : ( I was livid.

     
  12. “Liberalism: The gnawing feeling that someone, somewhere is doing something enjoyable or at least self-sufficient and must be stopped for the common good.” Absolutely THE best definition of liberalism I have ever read – thanks!

     
  13. you mean a bird feeder will bring deer,all my redneck friends will be buying bird feeders for the ranch during deer season! LOL!

     

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