Town mouse says don’t feed the pigeons

Every morning, at exactly 8.40am, the quiet street near Clapham Common that I live on is transformed into Tippi Hedren’s worst nightmare. Several dozen birds descend in a noisy rush from the surrounding trees and start scrabbling frantically around on the pavement. Their target? A woman who walks up the hill each day with a bag of breadcrumbs and stands on the corner ladling them out. This has been going on for several months. At first, only a couple of pigeons availed themselves of the breakfast buffet. But word has clearly got round, with Hitchcockian results.

I imagine myself bustling up to her and telling her to stop, but the law isn’t on my side. Feeding feral pigeons in Trafalgar Square was made illegal in 2003, but there’s nothing to stop people doing it elsewhere. And it’s totally unnecessary. Have you ever seen a thin pigeon? Moreover, they wreak havoc.

Bird droppings are acidic, corroding masonry and damaging buildings. Nesting materials stop up gutters and drains and food left on the ground attracts vermin. I’d like to see Wandsworth Council taking a leaf out of Trowbridge’s book-in 2012, residents who emptied bags of food all over the Wiltshire town every day, attracting hundreds of marauding birds, were given ASBOs.

* Subscribe to Country Life and save

* Follow Country Life magzine on Twitter