Some Oklahoma bird lovers are up in arms about Purple Martins being sprayed with water at the OKC Bombing Memorial. It’s the time of year when the martins flock together prior to migration. And there can be thousands in a flock. It seems the martins have chosen the Bombing Memorial as a roosting site, leaving copious droppings and a foul odor to greet guests the following morning. I’m seeing a lot of irrational statements from bird lovers who seem to be shooting from the hip without bothering to avail themselves of the facts. I’ve seen plenty of profanity used on facebook regarding the matter.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a bird lover, too. But, I don’t want thousands of them roosting on my property. Birders are passionate and normally well-informed. I just can’t understand the vitriol from some. I think the first thing to understand is that city officials are following protocol and law in dealing with the birds. Purple Martins are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and trained biologists with USDA Wildlife Services are directing the dispersal efforts.
When one looks at the options, it seems to me spraying the birds with water to encourage them to roost elsewhere is the least harmful and most humane method to deal with them. The Bombing Memorial certainly can’t be moved, so it would seem logical to move the birds. There is absolutely no shortage of suitable roosting sites for them. Some of the critics seem to think the fire department should just come out every morning and clean up after the birds. Problem is that the birds will likely return year after year if not discouraged at the onset of roosting at this location.
Zealots’ logic seems to spring from emotion rather than fact and I’m sure there will be some who think the birds should be allowed to use the Bombing Memorial ad infinitum. At least this controversy won’t last long. No matter if the birds seek another roosting site or remain at the Memorial, they will pack up and move to South America soon. End of controversy– until next year.