It turns out great-tailed grackle are not big fans of fireworks.
Businessmen and other local residents joined forces earlier this month to set off a barrage of fireworks to frighten these local pests. Their efforts were successful, according to Portales Public Works Director John DeSha.
“After those first two nights (Jan. 9-10), we would patrol the area and if we started to see them come back, we would do it again,” DeSha said Thursday. “We had to do that for about the next five nights and that seemed to work. We cleaned the sidewalks a week ago today and it’s still very clean.”
DeSha said scattered numbers would return to four or five select areas at times but just a few fireworks set off on occasion seemed to be all the discouragement the birds needed.
“What this does is just frighten them then they go find another nice place to settle in,” said local biologist Tony Gennaro. “I don’t know where that is but I think they’re happy there, ‘cause their not coming back.”
Gennaro said he would guess on an average day, there were 1,500 birds in trees surrounding the square.
But now, the trees appear to be empty, according to DeSha, who said he still checks them every evening when leaving work.
Business owners said they are relieved the sidewalks in front the their businesses are clean and the smell from bird droppings is gone.
“Here in the last week or so, there has been a tremendous difference,” said Pebsworth Insurance owner Robin Pebsworth. “We couldn’t even go into our back door into our house without stepping in it. And it wasn’t just stepping in it; it smelled too. And not only that, we keep our cars here too.”
She said the corner of South Avenue A and Second Street where Thompson Dentistry is located had an even heavier daily downpour from the birds with Thompson employees cleaning the sidewalks at least twice a day.
“It seemed to really work and drive them away,” said Hunton Insurance owner David Hunton. “I haven’t been down there at night in awhile when they always seemed to be there, but we don’t have the mess we had previously. Some people have noticed that it’s not like it was or as bad as it was.”
DeSha said if the birds return next fall, his crews will be ready for them with a bag full of ammunition.
“The minute we see them coming in, we’re going to start working on the problem,” he said. “We’ll start with the fireworks right then and there.”