All’s fair in love and the suburban bird-feeding wars | Peter White

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Once upon a time, our garden was a popular feeding site for birds of all sizes. Then our neighbour lured them away, and my wife is hatching a retaliation plan

We all know about the classic seeds of neighbourhood strife: unruly children and dogs; light-blocking trees and hedges; full-throated motorbikes arriving and departing when right-thinking folk are trying to sleep. What I hadn’t realised until recently was that the apparently gentle practice of feeding the birdies could unleash dark feelings of envy and loss.

When we arrived at our current house, it already had a modest, slightly rickety wooden bird table on a pole, with one bird feeder attached. My bird-loving wife was originally content to add a couple of additional feeders, so that smaller birds such as tits, gold- and bullfinches, nuthatches, etc could get their fair share, while the bigger birds could feed off the table itself, and the food scattered on the lawn was enough to satisfy the crows and jackdaws.

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