Birds Getting Moved Because Of Danger To SAFB

The City of Wichita Falls is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to move the birds from certain locations because they are a safety hazard for pilots at Sheppard Air Force Base. 

"Sometimes the bird will simply hit the plane with no damage," Ted Pepps, a Wildlife Biologist said, "Sometimes they go down the engines and if they go down the engines that's our biggest concern because they'll cease the engines, which will make the plane crash."

Crashes have happened before.

"In 1985 we lost an aircraft because of brown head cowbirds, which is about the same size as the red winged black birds that are down here right now.  In 2013 we lost a jet because of a cattle egret."

They are using pyrotechnics called bird bangers and bird screamers.  They will be using this noise tactic for more than one night.

"The key to black bird dispersal is doing it for at least four to five consecutive evenings," Pepps said, "We're not going to be doing it in the morning.  We'll be doing it in the evening during the last hour of daylight and then we're going to stop right at dark."

He said, typically the first few days they don't see progress and a lot of times people will give up.  However, by the third day they notice less birds in the area.  Depending on how successful it is, they might have to do it again.

This is something they do every year because of the risk it puts pilots in.

"It's the most threat to us at Sheppard and that's also when they flock in bigger numbers and become a problem," Pepps said.

However, Sheppard isn't the only place affected.  You can see the birds on the power lines all across Wichita Falls.  One of the popular areas is along Kemp Blvd.  Especially right by Olive Garden. 

Newschannel 6 spoke to some Texomans about the problem and all of them said they don't like it.

"I may park somewhere differently, but it doesn't keep me away from an establishment," Sherrie BultBultenad.

Even businesses are affected.  The manager of the McDonald's on Southwest Parkway said it's had an effect on their customers.  Part of the issue is they don't want to park underneath the trees because that's where the birds are.  They don't want their vehicle to get covered in feces.  Since most of their parking is underneath trees, many people complained that they couldn't dine in.

Pepps said the birds are attracted to the evergreen trees and they also like the thick stands of cattails.  They also like well lit areas.  It helps keep them warm during the winter months and it also protects them from predators. 

Pepps said the pyrotechnics can be a fire danger, but because of the damp weather, he doesn't think it will be an issue.  They also work with law enforcement to make sure everything is safe.

, Newschannel 6