Neighbors sue parents of 8 year old who feeds crows

Earlier this year, worldwide media profiled Gabi Mann, 8, of Seattle, who has fed and made friends with a large number of crows who bring her trinkets in return. [BBC, Audubon] Now some neighbors are suing parents Lisa and Gary Mann, saying their “mass wildlife feeding operation” has created a local nuisance [KIRO, Daily Mail]

I wouldn’t be surprised if Mary Poppins were ultimately to blame. “Feed the Birds” was said to be Walt Disney’s favorite song.

The suit demands $200,000, which would pay for a lot of crumbs at tuppence a bag.


  • The lawsuit came only after the girl’s parents refused any reasonable accommodation. Would you want hundreds of crows pooping and dropping garbage in your yard, besides cawing non-stop from 5 am each morning?

    • Do you have first hand knowledge of this case? Nether linked article details any specific accommodations that were refused, so how can you knew that they were reasonable?

      Certainly the suit seems reasonable if you take the plaintiffs allegations at face value. But should you take them at face value?

  • The fact that the neighbors’ request includes injunctive relief limiting the amount of food she leaves out (I think a quarter pound per day) rather than seeking a total ban on the feeding suggests that reason may well be on their side.

    • Only if you take the plaintiffs allegations as to how much feeding is happening at face value.

  • Props to KIRO for using the proper term for a group of crows đŸ˜€

  • The KIRO article mentioned that the family has hired employees to help with the feeding. If that is accurate, this has gone beyond a cute child filling a bird feeder.

  • When I saw that bit, I figured most likely the plaintiff’s lawyer was being clever about framing some instance or instances in which a housekeeper or babysitter had been observed helping Gabi. There is no evidence from the rest of the piece to indicate that the family would have any motivation to sink the cost of an employee’s hiring into their daughter’s hobby.

    • It could also be a pet sitter hired to fill the bird feeders while the family isn’t present.

      Which, on the one hand, yeah it’s a bit bloody-minded strict to describe them as “employees hired to help with feeding”. But on the other hand, it’s not *wrong* to describe them that way. These crows aren’t house pets, they’re wild animals; presumably they could find their own damn peanuts for a couple of days.

      • It could also be an outright fabrication on the part of plaintiffs filing a nuisance suit for malicious reasons.

  • Seems like a legitimate use of nuisance law to me. The neighbors tried a petition first. They’re willing to allow feeding to continue, just not so much feeding that it ruins their property value. I’m siding with the plaintiffs, based on the Daily Mail story, whether or not there are employees involved in the feeding.

    • “Seems like a legitimate use of nuisance law to me.”

      Only if you assume that the plaintiffs are telling the truth. Does it still seem legitimate if you allow for the possibility that the plaintiffs are significantly overstating both the damage and the extent of the feeding?

  • I don’t understand “allow for the possibility.” The allegations are true or not true. Of course, if the allegations are a load of hooey, and 51 neighbors merely want to harass an 8-year-old when they petitioned city government to do something, I oppose the lawsuit. Anyone who read this site from 2003-2010 knows that I’m skeptical of legal filings, and the last five years has only made me more so. But I’d wager pretty good money that this isn’t a contingent-fee lawsuit, and it’s very rare for someone to pay lawyers an hourly rate over the difference between an eight-ounce feeding and a four-ounce feeding of crows. Occam’s Razor says the neighbors feel legitimately aggrieved.