Hopkinsville Mayor: Roosting Birds Not That Bad
By Bill Hughes
HOPKINSVILLE, KY - According to some news sources, the city of Hopkinsville is experiencing a plague of blackbirds that's ruining people's lives and property. But city officials say it's not that bad.
Reuters published an article internationally on Monday saying that blackbirds and starlings are "fouling the sky, scaring pets, and raising the risk for disease" in Hopkinsville.
Mayor Dan Kemp says the city is experiencing a large number of birds coming into the city overnight to roost for two reasons.
"Because of the warmer winter weather, the birds are not traveling as far south as they ordinarily might, and the second factor is we have an abundant source of feed in the grain fields in the south part of the county. So, they feed out there in the daytime and then they come into the city to roost at night because of tree cover," Kemp told WKDZ Radio.
The Reuters article said that trees and lawns were turned white from bird feces, but Kemp and other city officials say that's stretching the truth. Kemp said there are more birds this year compared to last year, but they are only in certain areas of town - including his neighborhood - where there are a lot of trees.
David Chiles, President of the Little River Audubon Society, and also a Biology Teacher at Hopkinsville High School, told WKDZ that there are lots of places like this all over the southeastern United States, but it only becomes a problem when it happens in a populated area. He also said that the birds will move on, migrating north, in a couple of weeks as temperatures continue to rise.
Kemp said McGee Pest Control is under contract to do all they can within the law, like firing cannons and shining LASER lights into the roosting areas to encourage the birds to move on sooner.
He said there is a risk of histoplasmosis because of bird droppings, but so far the city has no reports of bird-related illnesses.