Downtown’s peskiest birds — at least most of them — have left town.
Grackles, black birds that roost in large flocks, had been hanging out in downtown Fort Worth, where they made a mess on cars and sidewalks.
Downtown Fort Worth Inc. uses a private company, Texas Bird Services, to encourage the birds to leave and now only a few stragglers remain, said Matt Beard, the district’s director of the public improvement.
Company employees shine lasers at the birds to disrupt their homing mechanism and, during the worst of the invasions, the company used trained Harris hawks, who prey on the grackles, to try to get the large flocks to move out of the central city.
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“Aside from the noise, you have the excrement that gets on cars and sidewalks and not only is that unsightly, but their bird droppings can carry disease,” Beard said in a previous interview.
The grackles traditionally move into downtown areas, where an ample food and water supply exists, during the cooler months. But once it begins to warm up, the birds tend to head out to fields to feast on grains and other crops.
Beard said that although most of the birds have left downtown, Texas Bird Services continues to use lasers to move any dawdlers along.
The city also uses noisy blasts from a propane cannon to try to scare the birds away.
Beard said efforts are underway to power wash about 1.5 million square feet of sidewalks weekly to clean up the bird poop and keep downtown “clean and free of disease.”
Caty Hirst, 817-390-7984
Dimensions: The black bird with purple and bronze plumage and a long, keel-shaped tail is typically 13 inches long and has a wingspan of 18 inches. A grackle can weigh as much as 5 ounces.
Location: Found throughout North America, grackles migrate to downtown areas during cooler months, seeking safety from predators and food and water.
Food: Grackles eat mice and insects such as crickets and roaches, so while they themselves are pests, they also keep some other pesky populations under control.
Relations with humans: Loud, messy and typically unafraid of people, grackles have been a problem in the Metroplex for years, becoming a public nuisance by squawking and relieving themselves on sidewalks, vehicles and passers-by. .
Source: Star-Telegram archives