I have 8 chickens with a big coop and let them out in the morning to go play around the backyard. Recently I have realized that birds go to their coop to eat their food. They first started from just landing in the yard. Now I am afraid 10 is going to be 100 in no time. I am concerned with neighbors not liking it. I personally do like them, but want them out because they are just bringing more friends. Any suggestions?
The only thing you can do is turn your coop/run area into a fortress completely surrounded by bird netting or chicken wire. If you want your birds to roam your yard freely, and want them to still have access to their food...then you are kind of stuck sharing some of it with the wild birds. Another option is to withhold food during the day, and lock them up with their food in the evening. Yet another option is to get a crazy Australian Shepherd, like our Buster, that has made it his mission in life to keep all wild birds out of the yard...running around barking his head off at every poor soul that dares land in "his" yard.
I have started trying to take their food away when opening their coop in the morning. Hopefully that helps, but so far they still come. Having a dog helps but that is not an option since my brother is afraid of them.
I had this problem a few months ago and someone on the board suggested Scary Tape. I got some at A&P nursery and it worked great. I have not had any problems with birds since hanging it around the coop.
You might have some Christmas ribbon around that would work just as well.
I agree with Bethany. My pen is completely surrounded with wire because I am concerned about any type of predator. I close the pen when the ladies are out, but I do put a dish of food in the day run. I have not had issues with wild birds. Good luck though.
You can use an automatic feeder, like the kind LeBistro makes for dogs or you can build a treadle style feeder (there is a link to plans on the main microlivestock page). Treadle feeders only open when a heavy enough bird steps on the treadle. You are correct that 10 will quickly turn into a lot more. You will begin going through 50 pound bags of feed in a week or two if you are leaving feed out for them all the time ($$). If you're just feeding them a little at a time by hand this is a bit less of an issue.
I doubt the neighbors will notice though, so if that's your only concern, it's not really a big deal. Ideally we would all minimize the contact our chickens have with wild birds to help eliminate disease and parasite vectors, but for most of us that's not really practical.
Wow, I didn't even think of the diseases that wild birds could bring with them. It seems like my chickens don't mind the wild birds. I am going to hand CDs as a friend's mom does it. She says the light reflection keeps the small birds away. I will try that and taking the food away during the day and see where it goes. Thanks all. And if any other ideas keep me posted. Thanks again.