Driving away unwanted birds with guns


October 12, 2005, 12:37 PM
This appeared in todays paper and I cannot help but think it'll turn out bad. :rolleyes:
I've had run-ins with these birds myself and it was very Hitchcock. Masses of birds so thick they block out the sun, waves of droppings falling onto parking lots. It's really something to see but the approach that the city is taking to get rid of them sounds rediculous.
Mother nature usually prevails.

Residents to be asked to help drive out grackles

By Anna M. Tinsley

Star-Telegram Staff Writer

FORT WORTH - First comes cool weather.

Then the grackles.

Now the city is calling in the reserves.

Residents and business owners will soon be able to take up arms -- including starter pistols and shotguns loaded with cracker shells -- to help city workers try to drive away the pesky birds roosting in trees throughout the city.

City Council members on Tuesday voted unanimously with no discussion to expand the city's efforts to drive the birds from heavily populated areas by including residents and business owners.

Details for signing people up for the program will be worked out in coming weeks, officials said.

"They do tens of thousands of dollars of damage to vehicles, sidewalks and property," Mayor Mike Moncrief said. "People have to duck and dodge their droppings -- and have their clothes cleaned when they're not fast enough.

"For us to expand the program -- and make sure citizens are willing to help with the relocation efforts and know how to do it -- makes sense."

The large blackbirds, which typically are not afraid of people, have increasingly become a public nuisance, squawking and relieving themselves on sidewalks and passers-by.

Research shows that they aren't all bad -- they eat mice and insects such as crickets and roaches, which can be problems themselves.

The city has used a variety of techniques to scare the birds away, most frequently using shotguns filled with noisemaking cracker shells.

Under the new program, residents will be able to participate after going through training and obtaining a pyrotechnic permit from the Fort Worth Fire Department.

The goal is to have participants citywide fire cracker shells or other noisemakers into the air -- all at specific times on specific days -- to scare the birds away.

"This is the time of year when they start to come in and lay roost," said Dee Hardin, district superintendent for the city's parks department. "If we don't get them out of here pretty soon, they'll settle in.

"And if we're not all synchronized, we'll just run them from one area of the city to another."

Council members on Tuesday also amended the city code to allow the firing of guns to scare off birds. Councilman Donavan Wheatfall did not attend the meeting.

The plan also includes provisions to accommodate downtown residents. Under the plan, Downtown Fort Worth Inc. will use irritants such as strong-smelling sprays, lasers or mists to scare the birds out of downtown's north end.

"We've been outfoxed by Mother Nature so far," said Andy Taft, president of Downtown Fort Worth Inc. "We're not ready to give up yet.

"If we have to bring in a bunch of falcons, then that's what we'll do."

The noisemakers will be used at the south end of downtown, away from most residents, Hardin said.

"We think this program will be a good start to driving the birds out," Hardin said. "It may not work totally, but it's a good start."


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October 12, 2005, 03:29 PM
Hope they expand that program to Austin ... I'll sign up. I hate those grackles. Don't park your car near any tree in the Lincoln Village/Highland Mall area, or it'll be white when you come back :barf: .

October 12, 2005, 03:37 PM
Makes me wonder why the great-tailed grackle is still on the protected federal migratory bird species list - but they are, so better not shoot them.

October 12, 2005, 04:44 PM
watch out for the Avian Flu, don't forget your SARS mask!

Jeff White
October 12, 2005, 06:17 PM
The PD I used to work for got the job of driving away birds from around the courthouse. We must have shot 200 bird bomb 12 gauge rounds over four consecutive evenings. It worked....According to the person from DNR who advised the county, it had to be done on consecutive evenings at the same time of day.

The birds moved on.


beaucoup ammo
October 12, 2005, 07:06 PM
San Antonio is famous for many things, not the least of which is the River Walk lined with cafes, shops, etc. It's also lined with oaks and...right..grackles. The birds love to perch and bomb the tourists eating outside or on the barges that traverse the winding water way!

The Park Police use the gun method to disperse the pesky critters.. as does Fort Worth. Only problem, they're back in 15 min.

The rotation plan in Cow Town sounds viable..I'll mention it to my councilman.

Take Care

October 12, 2005, 07:33 PM
It's always a toss up as to whether I park under a tree to be in the shade and risk the grackles or park out in the sun and get into a 200 degree car. Any program to limit their numbers is fine by me.

October 12, 2005, 07:47 PM
We must have shot 200 bird bomb 12 gauge rounds over four consecutive evenings. It worked....I hear it is a lot of work, and it takes a while, but in the end the bird bomb method works.

Places that kill (poison or shooting) the birds end up with tens of thousands dead birds and a hell of a lot more work to get rid of the corpes. You don't get rid of them correctly quick enough, and you have a much bigger problem with flies, smell, etc.

October 12, 2005, 08:35 PM
I used to use bird bombs for keeping coots out of our mallard and bluebill spreads. :D

October 13, 2005, 09:56 AM
I don't like this method because the birds are increasing in numbers and people are just sending them off to bother someone else.

I agree with the above post about how killing them can cause other problems, but passing the buck won't work for long.

October 13, 2005, 11:32 AM
I use the 12 guage shell crackers as well as 15mm screamers and bangers every day here around the airfield. Fun stuff for sure. :D

October 13, 2005, 01:57 PM
So what's wrong with something in 40mm? Surely Bofors can come up with a rapid-fire multi-gun mount designed to take down the little b*stards. Admittedly it would be kinda hard on windows, but you just know it would be cool to watch.

October 13, 2005, 02:18 PM
i think that they need to open the season on them and they will allow us to actully hunt them sure you can not hunt them but they can be killed and they are easier then skeet to clean up after you are done

October 13, 2005, 02:23 PM
Grackles have been a problem at the Ft Worth water garden for ages. They did run out the homeless people but it probably wasn't worth the tradeoff. I remember at one point they tried bird bombs in the gardens but too many people complained.

To get rid of the birds we'll borrow all of WI's feral cats.....
To get rid of the feral cats we'll introduce more feral dogs......
To get rid of the feral dogs we'll introduce the starving people of some third world country.......
To get rid of the once starving people we'll bring in the military......
It's just an evil conspiracy to create a police state.

Vern Humphrey
October 13, 2005, 02:29 PM
"Well sir, you said it was okay to use HE rounds on enemy equipment... I wasn't shooting at him, I was attempting to destroy his uniform."

When I lived in Virginia, I had a nice mulberry tree. The grackles would swarm it just about berry picking time and strip it.

One day the wife had our daughters out shopping and I was home alone. The grackles descended on the tree and I decided to do something about it.

The kids came home. "Daddy! There are dead birds in the back yard!"

"Yes, honey, there are."

"Daddy, there's blood on those birds!"

"Probably leaked out the bullet holes, honey." :D

October 16, 2005, 03:32 AM
they use "guns" at the big landfills here to scare of the massive gull flocks!

i havent ever gotten close enough to the guy to see exactly what it is , but it is some sort of gun that shoots a little reporting rocket.
almost like a bottle rocket, but they shoot them somehow/

maybe someone knows what these guns are?
they might just be modified tubes with some sort of ignitor, but they can fire them off pretty quick, pop pop pop,

October 16, 2005, 08:28 AM
An 870 withbird bombs has the same effect.They won't operate a semi-auto.

October 28, 2005, 07:48 AM
Apparently the guns aren't enough so now we're going to try lasers, fog and falcons. :rolleyes:


Posted on Fri, Oct. 28, 2005


Birds scatter after Rodney White, not pictured, uses a laser on a flock of grackles in downtown Fort Worth on Wednesday.
More photos

• Additional photos - Operation Grackle

Fright, then flight

Next wave in the grackle war: lasers, fog and maybe falcons


Star-Telegram Staff Writer

FORT WORTH - They call it Operation: Grackle.

The new plan of attack against pesky grackles -- also known as "downtown's feathered menace" -- includes lasers, lights and a grape-extract-based fog.

After that comes the big guns: predatory falcons, assuming that state and federal officials approve permits.

These are the latest tools in Downtown Fort Worth Inc.'s arsenal in the effort to drive grackles out of downtown.

"We are not giving up," said Andy Taft, president of the booster organization. "We've not yet begun the fight."

Relocating the birds has become a priority, now that cooler weather is here.

When temperatures fall, the large black birds flock downtown by the thousands -- maybe millions -- seeking food, water and safety from predators.

Research shows that the birds aren't all bad. They do eat mice and insects such as crickets and roaches, which can be problems themselves.

But through the years, the bold birds have increasingly become a public nuisance, squawking and relieving themselves on sidewalks and passers-by.

Downtown Fort Worth Inc. and the city are working together. The city covers downtown's south end, with noise-making efforts, and the downtown group is on the north end, with quieter irritants.

Downtown Fort Worth Inc. has hired a pest-control company to take a crack at scaring grackles away.

They are on the first phase of the plan: Shock and Awe.

Shock and Awe

Lasers, spotlights and an irritating citrus-scented fog will be used around downtown over the next nine months.

First up are red laser beams, known as Avian Dissuaders, that workers will shine in trees between 6:30 and 8 p.m. several days a week, said Rodney Beaman, owner of Fort Worth Pest and Termite Services.

"This is different from regular light -- they will remember this and avoid coming back to the same tree," Beaman said. "We've got a small window of opportunity to move the birds until their eyes are shut and hardly anything affects them.

"After 8 p.m., almost nothing you do will make them move," he said. "They're hunkered down at that point."

If the lasers don't work, the company may turn to spotlights. The lasers and spotlights are intended to make the birds nervous and think they have predators.

If the lights don't work, workers may bring out grape-extract-based fog.

Beaman said the fog, deemed safe by the federal government, harms neither birds nor people. Used late at night, the mist irritates grackles' senses -- mainly smell and sight.

"They want to get away from it," Beaman said. "As soon as they sense it, they fly away."

If that doesn't work, Taft said, there's always Phase Two: Falcons.


Downtown Fort Worth Inc. is supporting an application to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for a migratory-bird special-purpose permit. It would let a local bird handler work with falcons downtown as a pest-control technique.

Taft said he hopes that a permit will be granted soon, possibly in the coming weeks.

If so, a falconer would bring about a half-dozen falcons downtown to scare grackles away, Taft said.

"The reason we have so many birds downtown is because they have absolutely no predators there," Taft said. "We want to introduce the fear of predators."

The falcons, late at night, would fly around downtown, landing in trees and at times attacking grackles.

"We don't want them to eat a lot of birds," Taft said. "We want them to chase the birds out. We want them to convince the grackles that there's a falcon in every tree."

The falcons would be used randomly.

"Birds will pick up on the threat very quickly, and they'll remember it for a very long time," Taft said. "I think it could someday rid downtown of grackles."

City efforts

On Tuesday, city officials will kick off their annual bird-relocation effort. Workers will fire propane sound cannons and shotguns loaded with cracker shells from the backs of pickups, said Dee Hardin, the city's parks superintendent.

Trying to scare the birds with noise out of downtown's south side, they will go out about 30 minutes before dark until about 30 minutes after dark several days a week.

"We're going to try to move them out of downtown," Hardin said.

At the same time, the city is working on a program to let residents and business owners join the effort by shooting starter pistols and shotguns loaded with cracker shells that sound like fireworks.

Through this program, residents and business owners go through training and pay for a $250 pyrotechnic permit, Hardin said.

If more than one person at a business or residence wants to participate, the first permit will cost $250 and each subsequent one will cost $100, Hardin said.

Permit holders must be at least 21 and pass a test. They also must pay for the supplies and shotguns, Hardin said.

Hardin said homeowners interested in moving grackles off their property don't need to go through the costly permit process.

There are simple and often effective alternatives -- spraying water, shining bright lights, rattling sticks up a tree or using banging noises.

"Our goal is to get them out of here," Hardin said.



Training sessions are set up for residents and business owners to learn about helping with the city's bird-relocation efforts. After trainees pass a test, they may pay $250 for a pyrotechnic permit that lets them shoot starter pistols and shotguns loaded with cracker shells that sound like fireworks.

October 28, 2005, 08:27 AM
Sometimes you have to make them bleed. Grackles are smart birds and if you just keep scaring them, eventually they will become accustomed to the noise and it won't bother them. Any time you use non-lethal methods, some lethal should be used at the same timie so the birds associate the loud noise with the death of some of the flock. Have one person shot a couple of pyros and another person blast a few with the 12 guage.

Darth Ruger
October 28, 2005, 01:05 PM
I like the way the proposed actions are all laid out.
If all else fails, there's always WMD's. :D

Keep us updated.

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