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That's right! No more bird feeders my apartment.
This seems to be the latest trend going on with Wisconsin property management companies and landlords around our state. I'm not surprised, really. Searching around on the interwebz, I see this is a fairly common policy or rule at apartments and condominiums. After talking to a neighbor of mine who was also feeding birds, I learned what might have prompted the new rule. One morning she opened her apartment door to the interior hall and found a pile of birdseed dumped on her welcome mat. Apparently, this was an angry response to the birdseed and guano that was falling from her second floor balcony feeders to the patio below. The notice from Gallina above was delivered to all tenants the following day.
My balcony sans bird feeers.
I immediately took down all my feeders, including my oriole and hummingbird ones. I did leave out my two bird baths. I can't see those creating much of a problem, and as far as I know my downstairs neighbor hasn't complained about me. I recently put out some salvias and fuchsias to keep hummingbirds coming to my balcony, which they are. In response to the notice I called our landlord on the phone, and then emailed her a three-page guide I put together on responsible bird feeding for apartment homes (recommendations on certain types of feeders, food, and seasonal schedules to minimize a mess), but to no avail:
"After considering all the potential issues we have decided to keep a no bird feeder policy. I really do appreciate your phone call last week and taking the time to put together a proposal in an effort to educate others on better ways to feed. A big part of it is the policing factor of it. Unfortunately we have learned that not everyone is going to be responsible even though you provide the guidelines in which they can operate within. It is far better to have the rule and be able to enforce it then to check to be sure everyone who is feeding is using the right feeder etc."
A lovely Baltimore Oriole from spring last year.
In order to simplify the process for my neighbors, I even planned to work with the local Wild Birds Unlimited store to put together an apartment "no mess" bird feeding kit at a discount to tenants – something they (WBU) were very receptive to, but didn't work out given my landlord's uncompromising position. Naturally, I'd rather feed birds than not, but I can live with the new rule. Heck, I don't really spend all that much time at my apartment watching birds. What bothers me is how this may psychologically impact our elderly tenants who have enjoyed feeding birds for several years. Some of them live alone and I understand the warmth and joy having a regular feathered visitor can bring. Iris did nothing wrong by having a hummingbird feeder on her balcony, and now it's gone, and so, too, are her sprightly little friends.
I guess I can sympathize with all factions involved. All tenants pay for and deserve a guano-free patio without birdseed clutter and I can imagine their frustration having to clean their patios. Management just wanted the problem to go away as simply and quickly as possible. It's true that the ground squirrel population here is really quite impressive, but it's nothing new. They were well established at the apartment grounds when I moved here in the spring of 2009. To be sure, they are destructive little shits, but they're sort of cute in their own way. Deemed as pests, I suspect their time here is rather short.
It's all your fault! Run! Run away, fast!
With a cordial discussion between tenants and management, I think some kind of compromise might have been possible. But that's not usually our nature. Rather than work together on issues, people often shunt a complaint where they'll get an immediate result, but not necessarily the best and most amicable one. Now I feel there's a little resentment between some tenants. I really like my apartment and its location relative to where I work and Pheasant Branch Conservancy. I don't think this is something that will prompt me to look for another place to live next spring when my current lease expires. I might, however, suggest a new name for our two apartment complexes, "Dry Creek" and "Dog Run."
Critter images © 2012 Mike McDowell