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Birds take wing before city can act

March 22, 2005|by TARA REILLY

HAGERSTOWN - When the recent nightly shower of bird droppings along South Potomac Street became too much for Carole Feigley to deal with, she did two things.

She called Hagerstown City Hall to report a health hazard and she prayed for assistance from above.

But before the city's Public Works Department could carry out its plan to rid the area of the birds, Feigley said God already had stepped in.

The birds went away and hadn't returned in several days, she said Monday night.

"I believe in prayer," Feigley said. "It's divine intervention. You can't tell me otherwise."

Feigley said hundreds of birds would arrive in the early evening on South Potomac Street between Baltimore and Lee streets, hang out in the trees, make a racket and leave behind messes.


The city received complaints about the birds in that area, Public Works Manager Eric Deike said.

As a result, the city decided to scare them away by shooting firecracker-type projectiles into the air starting Monday at about 5:30 p.m.

When a city employee arrived to take care of business, the birds didn't show. By 7 p.m., the trees were still empty.

Feigley said she thinks her prayers paid off and that the birds might be gone for good.

"I'll tell you folks, you are not going to see any birds," Feigley said, referring to the media that had gathered to report on the city's plan.

Deike said by phone later in the evening that he would discuss the situation with the department today and determine its next step.

"Maybe the birds are coming in later tonight," he said. "Maybe something (changed) in the weather."

"If they moved ... fantastic," he said.

The city explained in a written statement that the projectiles resemble firecrackers, explode and create a loud noise to scare away the birds without harming them.

Deike said some of the projectiles also make a whistling sound.

Such a method of scaring away the birds, which Deike said were probably crows and blackbirds, is effective if used a few hours a night for several nights in a row, he said.

"It irritates them enough that they get tired of sitting there," Deike said.

In the meantime, Feigley said she's glad the birds are gone.

"I don't hate birds," she said. "They are God's creation. But I don't want them pooping on everything and making all that racket."

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