A D.C. Superior Court judge had ordered a Washington woman, who is being sued for $30,000 by a next-door neighbors because she feeds pigeons in her backyard, to stop catering to the birds.
"It's not fair . . . I feel rotten," said 80-year old Emma Pederson of Judge Carlisle E. Pratt's ruling Friday. The judge told her to stop putting out bread crumbs, birdseed and bowls of water that have attracted dozens of birds -- most of them pigeons --0 kto her two-story brick home at 4509 43rd Pl. NW over the years.
The battle of the birds has been building for the last six years since Nathan and Esther Finkelstein moved into the house next door to Pederson and began to complain that the pigeons left droppings and shed feathers on their cars, roof and windowsills and in their back yard.
Then the Finkelsteins won court approval of their request to force Pederson to stop feeding the birds, which the Finkelsteins contend carry a variety of serious infectious diseases that could threaten the well-being of their 20-month-old daughter.
The ban will remain in effect until the couple comes into court on Oct. 21 with a suit in which they are asking Pederson to pay damages that the Finkelsteins contend have been done to their home, yard and cars by bird droppings.
Nathan Finkelstein, a lawyer, said he was forced to build a stockade fence between the two properties to help keep the birds at bay. He also said he constructed a sun deck in his yard for use as a play area by his daughter -- a deck that can be hosed down to remove pigeon droppings. His daughter, he said, is "at an age where she picks up everything and anything and is not very discriminating about what she puts in her mouth."
Finkelstein's wife, a biologist, said that "we've seen huge flocks [of pigeons] -- as many as 100 -- mostly in her [Pederson's] back yard unless a loud noise would scare them when they would fly into our back yard."
"I do love animals . . . but I get very emotional over the fact that there should be something to do to protect my child," Mrs. Finkelstein said.
Pederson said she would comply with the court order, but "I won't give up" the fight to regain her right to feed the birds, Pederson, a native of Belgium, said she wants to honor the pigeons because of their service in carrying Allied messages through enemy territory in Europe in World War II.