- Associated Press - Friday, February 21, 2014

GREENWOOD, Miss. (AP) - The city of Greenwood’s annual skirmish with hundreds blackbirds is a thing of legend. It is also over.

The city has tried using loud music to banging pots and pans to sound cannons to firing pistols with blanks to run the red-winged blackbirds out of town. Each time nothing worked.

Now, Greenwood Mayor Carolyn McAdams said the best thing to do is just leave them alone until the pesky birds fly away on their own.

“If we leave them alone as much as possible and do not disturb their pattern, then we’ll be better off,” McAdams said at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

The Greenwood Commonwealth reports (http://bit.ly/1bsDNDG) that McAdams said she’s talked with scientists at Mississippi State University who say while the noisemakers disturbed the birds’ natural habits they don’t drive them off.

“There is no way to get rid of the blackbirds other than the very, very destructive means of either cutting all our trees down or subjecting our citizens to a real strong poison,” McAdams said. “I don’t know how you can prevent birds from roosting in this area if that’s their habit.

“Unfortunately, they just like Greenwood.”

The birds have been nesting throughout the city, chirping away in the early morning and covering many streets, sidewalks and cars with their droppings.

In the past, the noisemakers were concentrated in Whittington Park. McAdams said using noisemakers in the park succeeded only in driving the birds to other parts of town.

“Once you disturb them, then they go all over town, and that’s kind of what’s happened,” McAdams said. “I don’t know what to do about it other than, if you see the birds, don’t use the noisemakers so they don’t spread all over.”

Susan Bailey, public works director for the city, said her department is focusing on cleaning up the parks after the birds and is trying not to disturb them.

Andy Braswell Sr., the Leflore County Extension Service coordinator, said the birds’ droppings could spread sickness. Large amounts of blackbird droppings are associated with histoplasmosis, a lung infection caused by breathing in spores of a fungus often found in the droppings.

Braswell said the blackbirds can also be a nuisance to farmers by destroying crops or digging up seed after planting. They are especially a pest to rice farmers.

“They come into the rice fields and knock the rice out of the head. They eat some, but the biggest damage is from knocking it out on the ground,” he said.

Other than that, though, Braswell said there’s not much to be done.

“In the years past, they built cannons to shoot them, try to scare them away and that stuff,” he said. “They haven’t been too successful.”

McAdams said citizens have tried everything from blasting the birds with shotgun shells to chasing them off by banging pots and pans.

“Hopefully by the end of February they will go off someplace else and terrorize people there,” McAdams said.

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Information from: The Greenwood Commonwealth, http://www.gwcommonwealth.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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