A LONELY pensioner branded it "wicked" that she is no longer allowed to feed the pigeons in her garden.

Katherine Spiller began attracting the birds to her home in East Oxford more than 20 years ago by throwing seed from her bathroom window.

She said they were her only company because she did not have a partner or children.

But when neighbours complained about the large numbers of pigeons congregating around the property the 66-year-old was handed a community protection notice by Oxford City Council in February last year.

The “habitual bird feeder” failed to abide by the notice and continued to put seed out in her garden in Temple Street, Oxford Magistrates Court heard last week.

Spiller was fined £640 for breaching the order and ordered to pay a £64 victim surcharge and £1,729 prosecution costs.

Speaking from her home the keen poet, former librarian and administrator said: "The birds like being fed, but now you can't feed them in town. You can't even feed the ducks.

"There was not the same law in place when I first began feeding them in 1995.

"I think it is a wicked law and it makes it hard on the pigeons.

"They could be an amenity for people who lack a bit of company.

"The pigeons were my only company, and people do look for company in the pigeons."

Oxford City Council said neighbours were unable to use their gardens in the summer because of the birds perching and defecating.

Jeremy Franklin, representing Oxford City Council, told the court Spiller flouted the notice eight times between August and October last year.

The large flocks of pigeons caused Spiller's neighbours "distress and antagonism".

Spiller, who wrote a poem in 1997 entitled Pigeon Woman that reflects on her own experiences of feeding the birds, sent a letter to the court, admitting she had failed to comply with the community protection notice.

But the court clerk said the letter was “very, very rambling” and mainly consisted of “poems that have been written by Ms Spiller”.