AN ELDERLY woman has been asked to stop throwing food to birds in her garden.

Wheelchair-bound Elsie Shenton, of Leeside, Dringhouses, who is 89, said feeding the birds was one of the few things she enjoyed doing.

She said: “I can’t walk very well and I sit in a wheelchair and look at them coming into the garden. There are some big black ones and some seagulls come occasionally. I like to see them diving down for the bread.”

Elsie, who has knitted almost 700 little jumpers for Oxfam, received a letter from City of York Council asking her not to put food outside any more, unless she puts it on a bird table.

It said: “Any remaining food waste can become unhygienic and attract unwanted animals in the area such as cats.

“If you would like to feed the birds in your garden then I would ask that in future, can you please feed them with bird food on or else use a raised bird table, which prevents other animals like cats and dogs from getting to it.”

Elsie said: “Cats don’t eat bread. If you put it in gravy maybe, but not dry bread. I don’t understand it at all. I didn’t put any out today and I think the poor birds are lost.”

Elsie said she had called the RSPB and was told not to feed birds bread: “I’ve been feeding them bread for donkeys’ years. I’ve really cried over this.”

Paul Morrison, City of York Council’s tenancy services manager, said: “Tenants who like to feed birds are encouraged to offer them bird food out of reach of cats and dogs. To put out waste food at ground level could attract rats.”

The RSPB said its policy was not to tell people not to feed birds bread, but that it fills birds up, meaning they would not go in search of any more nutritious food.

Other cupboard items, such as porridge oats, cake or biscuit crumbs or softening fruit and cooked unsalted rice and pasta are more nutritious.