When birds flock together

Campus & Local, Opinion

By Rhyland Pittenger, Christopher Knowles, Brittany Owens – 

If you have ever visited the business building on campus, then you are familiar with the stench of bird feces that surrounds it. You have also probably noticed the walkways covered in bird droppings. The unpleasantness that engulfs what could be one of the prettiest areas on campus is not a problem taken lightly by Tarleton’s Facilities directors. Patience is a virtue, and lack of it will not help this particular situation.

Every year, these birds—grackles—flood the area and take shelter in the canopies above the business building walkways. The school has spent time and money trying to repel them in “the most humane and natural ways,” according to the associate vice president of Physical Facilities, Joe Standridge. He says that sound and chemical deterrents have been used in the past, but to little effect. Currently, the school is using hawks to scare away the grackles, which is a technique that takes a while to produce results, but usually controls the problem for approximately six months. The birds typically migrate to another area in town and then return when they feel less threatened.

While some students complain that the school is not doing enough to control the issue, Standridge said that the Facilities department is doing everything within its means to get rid of the birds. Noise makers and chemicals have proven unsuccessful in recent experiments. Staff members are also hosing down the walkways and benches often in an attempt to keep the area clean and beautiful, but the birds are constantly there to replace the filth. Others are concerned about health issues that come with the large amounts of bird droppings in a public area. However, most diseases related to bird feces are found in connection with pigeons, not grackles, Standridge said. Simply inhaling the odor will not cause much more than discomfort in the nostrils.

Bird feces are certainly no one’s preferred decor, nor are they anyone’s aroma of choice, but the problem at hand is not one that can be handled overnight. Tarleton staff, directors and faculty are aware of the current problems caused by these pesky birds, and they are open to suggestions in dealing with them—excluding animal cruelty and any method that would result in bird corpses lining the walkways. The birds have been an ongoing issue, though not due to lack of attention and efforts to resolve it. Until other sound methods are developed, or until the current method takes effect, all students can offer are suggestions and time.

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