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Is Ohio Bird Feeder Ordinance For the Birds?

A city councilman in Ohio is looking to pass an ordinance that would make it a misdemeanor to have excessively messy bird feeders that cause odors and unsanitary conditions, according to Dave Wilson of

The ordinance, which is confined to the city of Cuyahoga Falls, makes it illegal to “feed, keep or harbor pigeons or other wild or domesticated birds in the city so as to create … offensive odors or unsanitary conditions …”

Although Jerry James, the councilman who proposed the idea, currently has the ordinance on hold, there has been a tremendous amount of controversy when people first heard about it.

A lot of that controversy had to do with a misunderstanding of the ordinance. Many people thought the ordinance was banning all bird feeders, but it was only banning the messiness around feeders.

Despite the ruffled feathers, the ordinance is probably not a bad idea. As I’ve been talking about on this blog, it’s very important to keep feeders clean and tidy, so birds don’t get sick from mold and mildew. It’s also important to pick up fallen seed off the ground because old, rotten seed makes birds very ill.

An easy way to prevent food from falling, as I wrote here, is to buy a simple seed catcher that you place underneath the feeder. If your birds are messy and toss seeds around, this accessory catches the seed in a box before it falls on the ground.

Not only does fallen food make birds sick, but it also attracts rodents and other creatures who scrounge around.

Regardless of whether this ordinance actually passes, Councilman James is hoping that this raises awareness of the issue and encourages people to clean their bird feeders more often.

So, let this whole debacle be a subtle reminder for you to head outdoors and give your feeder a nice clean.

Timothy Martinez Jr. is a writer and freelance journalist. His work has been published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Remapping Debate in New York City and other publications. He’s been a bird lover since he was young and currently lives in New Orleans, L.A.

1 Comment

  1. I agree with the above ordinance. I think it is important for the health of local birds as well as migrating birds. It takes only a short time to keep feeders clean if you keep up the cleaning several times a week. I hope the ordinance passes. I get many hours of pleasure from watching the birds on my 3 feeders.

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