Background: I am a student pilot, with ~35 hours in power planes and ~20 hours in gliders.
Define a few feet please.
The FAA has this definition which seems especially relevant in this discussion.
And do pilots also report to the FAA everytime they pass "within a few feet" of a bird?
It's quite common for pilots to radio their controller when they encounter a hazard. That's how your pilot knows to turn on the "fasten seatbelt" light when you're approaching turbulence; the same goes for flocks of birds or unidentified aircraft. Even so, it's not really fair to compare birds drones, for the same reason that deer don't get jaywalking tickets.
I can say through personal experience that just seeing other aircraft / birds takes a huge amount of my attention, even when the other gliders have 15-18 meter wingspans. Drones are much smaller than manned aircraft and they tend to move very slowly, making them even harder to see. The problem of seeing other gliders is a big enough issue where someone developed a technology called FLARM to reduce the number of collisions by notifying pilots of other gliders within ~4km; it has already saved many lives despite being only 10 years old.
So when I'm flying, I spend a large amount of my time looking for other aircraft. My eyes have much better resolution and FoV than a drone's camera, and I can swing my head around to look from side to side, and up & down - this gives me a better capability to look for hazards. Birds also tend to have good eyes & ears. There is a very good incentive for us to be vigilant: our lives are at stake.
On the other hand, drone pilots only have a camera, hooked up to a low-resolution video screen, which they would need to aim all around in order to scan for other aircraft. The problem is magnified by the fact that have a poor incentive to look for collision hazards: they have a few hundred dollars at stake, and they're probably already using the same camera to look at something on the ground.
The FAA has been hell bent on gaining government control over drones and they will make up any excuse they can, the scarier the better.
Sorry, I just don't buy the regulatory overreach argument in this case. My life could be put in jeopardy by someone playing with their new toy while I'm already flying low and slow on final approach; the last thing I need is another distraction when I'll be touching down (one way or another) within 15 seconds.
I would wager that most of the people writing the regulations are pilots of some capacity, and those who aren't certainly have ready access to many extremely experienced pilots; these people are just trying to protect the lives of millions of airline passengers, flight crew, and pilots.