Backyard Chirper

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Thousands of black birds plague Kentucky town

Right before the sun sets over one Kentucky town, the sky turns black, but not for the reasons you’d expect. The sky actually turns black from thousands of black birds, mostly European Starlings, flying in huge murmurations.

While large flocks of birds are not unusual, it can be pretty intimidating for anyone to see this many birds flying over your head at once. According to an article on Colorado’s 9 News, the birds cover a three-mile radius and have been there since Thanksgiving. They engage in these murmurations between 5:30 and 6:00pm.

Even though you might not think this is a big deal, having such a high concentration of birds in one area poses a lot of problems. One of the main issues is the fecal matter. A striking sight from the news report below is a woman carrying an umbrella because of the droppings raining from the sky. This could be a serious issue because excessive amounts of droppings could introduce bacteria into the air and create a foul smell. There are reports of people getting eye infections and irritation in their throats.

These murmurations can be hypnotic and beautiful in small doses, but being held hostage by the birds, for fear of defecation and health hazards, is troublesome. Many news reports are likening it to Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.”

If you don’t know anything about European Starlings, they are non-native invasive species in the U.S. There are an estimated 200 million of these birds, which are all descended from about 75 that were released in Central Park.

So, what is the solution for the starling problem that is affecting cities and devastating certain plant life? The Kentucky town is trying to disperse the flock of thousands with sound cannons, but it hasn’t worked.

There are a number of things you can do to keep starlings away from your bird feeders, but getting this amount of birds away from your town is a tall task. Back in 2008, the government poisoned or shot more than a million starlings to control populations. It’ll be interesting to see what actions this poor Kentucky town takes to rid themselves of the invasive birds.

Timothy Martinez Jr. is a writer and freelance journalist. His work has been published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Remapping Debate in New York City and other publications. He’s been a bird lover since he was young and currently lives in New Orleans, L.A.