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December 2 , 1994

Part of all the current flurry of home construction in north Perry has been the major cleanup work carried out by the city on drainage creeks, particularly between Fifteenth street and U.S. 77 near the football stadium.

Apparently some of this was mandated by environmental concerns, but no one would argue over the need for doing it. Big earth-moving equipment was brought in to clear out some of the wild, dense underbrush, vines, tangled trees and other vegetation that had been permitted to grow unchecked for years.

It was, as they say, like a jungle out there, literally. But now the area is open, clean in appearance, and it should drain much better when peak rain periods come along. Aesthetically, it is a quantum leap forward. A wilderness is OK in the right place, but this one was really not needed

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of starlings were displaced by all this. Those undesirable, oily looking birds have been nesting in that area for years. Their outbound flights in the morning light were quite a spectacle to behold as they took off, wave after wave, in pursuit of places to mess up during the day. At twilight they would return to their nests, chattering saucily at each other and, it seemed, at the poor defenseless earthbound creatures below.

Many of them may now be circling other nearby wooded regions in search of new homes. Naughty birds. Nobody loves them, but they are going to be around until something drives them away. We've been in parks and other places where starlings had been declared public enemies because of their droppings. I remember one park in particular where they had rigged up loudspeakers in trees. Every five minutes, a loud explosive sound would emanate from the speakers and the noise would cause the birds to flutter quickly away. But, in less than 60 seconds, they would come right back to the same trees. This noisy little exercise in futility went on over and over each evening, but it did not get rid of the birds.

I also remember that Stillwater once had a problem with starlings in the downtown area. The pests were nesting in Bradford pear trees which had been planted by the city as part of a downtown improvement program, and the birds were vexing pedestrians as well as merchants who had paid for the project. They tried using poison pellets on rooftops of buildings, but that effort had to be abandoned.

Other things were tried with only partial success, and it looked like a hopeless task. Then it came time to put up the city's street decorations for Christmas. Guess what? Those twinkling blinking light displays completely solved the problem. The starlings departed and, as far as I know, have not returned even in the post-Christmas era.

You never know what it takes to get the job done until you've tried them all.