Fairview Twp. neighbors: Overgrown bamboo creates bird, cat 'war zone'

Rebecca Klar
York Dispatch

Several Fairview Township residents are complaining about a flock of birds and feral cats they claim are drawn to a neighbor's overgrown bamboo. 

Between 4 and 6 p.m. most evenings, thousands of birds fly over houses on Kernel Lane before settling into the bamboo for the night, said Bill Dunham, a resident on the street. 

"We just have a large swarm of birds. It's like a bird sanctuary," he said. "At night it sounds just like a war zone, with cats fighting and birds. It's just ridiculous."

For more than 40 years, Dunham and his wife, Patricia, have lived two doors down from the house with bamboo growing in its yard. 

They said the birds became an issue within the last couple of years. 

Bill Dunham said a neighbor brought home a little bit of bamboo about 20 or 30 years ago, and it has "spread like wildfire." The stalks are now up to about 60 feet tall — maybe higher, he said. 

A knock on the bamboo owner's door went unanswered Friday, Dec. 14. 

Tom Gesner, a Fairview residents who lives on Kernel Lane, said a neighbor's bamboo is bringing birds, and bird feces, to his yard. (Photo by Rebecca Klar)

Tom Gesner, who lives next door to the house with the bamboo, said the birds flock in groups from different areas. 

"And then just before they're about to settle in for the night, they come back and swarm the house," he said. "Just before the sun goes down, they dive into the bamboo." 

A murmuration of birds spans the sky above the home of Tami and Tom Gesner in Fairview Township, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018. The birds arrive daily near sunset, synchronizing their swoops, before diving into the Gesners' neighbor's overgrown bamboo. Dawn J. Sagert photo

His wife, Tami Gesner, said the plants have grown over property lines into the Gesners' yard. 

"That shouldn't really be my concern because it's not my property, but my property is being destroyed because of what she has done," she said. 

Along with the flock of birds comes bird poop, the neighbors said. 

"They have droppings everywhere. Our cars are covered, our house, our driveway. ... It's a mess. It's disgusting," Tami Gesner said. 

Fairview residents on Kernel Lane said a neighbor's bamboo is bringing birds, and bird feces, to their yards. (Photo by Rebecca Klar)

The bird droppings also pose a health risk, especially for Patricia Dunham, who suffers from kidney disease, Bill Dunham said. 

Even touching the bird feces can be deadly for Patricia Dunham, he said. 

Experts on bamboo: On its website under the section for invasive plants, Penn State Extension warns, "Plants such as bamboo can spread quickly from your garden onto other people's property, decreasing their enjoyment of their property and their enjoyment of having you as a neighbor."

However, there is no law or ordinance prohibiting the growth of bamboo, said Fairview Township manager Don Martin. 

Martin said he recently received two complaints regarding the bamboo growth on Kernel Lane. 

Tami and Tom Gesner stand near their property line, as they talk about their neighbor's overgrown bamboo and and the environmental problems it has caused for their home and neighborhood in Fairview Township, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Offer of help: Tami Gesner said all she and her neighbors are looking for is a way to get rid of the birds. 

"There are birds galore that are dangerous to our health," she said. "Why can't we do something about that?" 

On Friday, Dec. 14, a fellow township resident offered a friend's services to remove the bamboo for free. 

Ken Puller said he saw the neighbors' complaint on an ABC 27 segment and reached out to a friend who is an excavator. 

His friend offered to remove the bamboo for free. Puller left a note on the bamboo owner's door but had not heard back as of 3 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18. 

"It's all up in the air right now," Puller said.