Friday, April 30, 2010

War--What Is It Good For?

We are at war with an insidious enemy who seeks to destroy the very fabric of our freedom. No, I am not talking about the misguided debacles in Afghanistan and Iraq. I am referring to pigeons, “the stout-bodied birds with short necks and slender bills”, according to Wikipedia. The feral rock pigeon variety has invaded our neighborhood and is attempting to permanently relocate to our back deck.

How did this happen? Several months ago, the Homeowner Association’s Board of Directors, of which I was the president for four years until my term concluded two weeks ago, allocated more than $15,000 to control these ornithological pests with a series of spikes and nets strategically placed along the rooftops and eaves of our 63-unit townhouse community.

Part of the pigeon control program also included high-powered cleaning along the sides of homes with several severely clogged downspouts that were filled with assorted detritus and tons of pigeon poop. Some of the clogged spouts overflowed onto roofs and caused water damage to a few units.

The other four directors supported the initial outlay of money, which targeted designated areas around the complex, but were against a total assault and solution. They said it was too expensive.

Only one director, the outgoing president and financially generous author of this blog, favored spending more money now to rid ourselves of the persistent pigeon problem with a complete and relentless campaign of shock and awe.

The board was desperate for a solution to a potential large scale health hazard and total community nuisance, so we even entertained the idea of arming neighborhood kids with BB guns and authorizing them with a license to kill. Alas, our stronger sense of morality and fear of massive lawsuits caused us to abort that plan before it was hatched.

I guess we could have acted as our neighbors in Arizona, and treated all pigeons as suspect and deported them back to their native countries.

What we have now, though, a few months outside the initial treatment, is a grave and unhealthy situation as the pigeons continue their stealth attacks on decks, rooftops, spouts, and sides of buildings. Unsightly pigeon poop is caked on several driveways, ledges, and roofs. One resident refuses to take any measures against the pigeons on her back deck unless the HOA board agrees to reimburse her. Another resident, who hates the birds, is afraid of destroying the nests on her back deck because they are filled with pigeon babies. Daily the adult pigeons and their fluffy offspring defecate on the deck, the house, and the driveway.

When the pigeon problem first began, Verna and I opted for a $7 solution. We bought a not scary scarecrow from the local crafts store and frightened the pigeons that’d begun congregating on our back deck.

All was well until two weeks ago. No longer could we just pound the glass on the back door and terrify the vulnerable pigeons. They started leaving piles of sticks as if they were hunkering down for the long haul.

The first time I saw the nest-to-be I grabbed it and flung the sticks over the railing. The next day the pile of sticks was back. I tossed them over the side of the deck again.

“Maybe you shouldn’t just throw them into the street,” said Verna, my sensible wife. “Put them in a bag and throw it into the garbage.”

I complied with my wife’s wishes and the sticks have not reappeared. But I am not going to let my guard down again and be lulled into a false sense of security. No, with an enemy as vicious and opportunistic as a pigeon I plan to utilize the most modern of resources, technology, and weaponry.

Shortly after the board voted to spend some money to address the pigeon problem but leave the responsibility on homeowners to fund any future issues, one of our neighbors installed fine mesh netting across his deck and a wooden barrier at the bottom.

His solution is relatively inexpensive and works. A few days ago, my father-in-law started taking measurements for our netting and wood. We are not afraid to keep up with the Joneses, or in this case, the nice guy from Armenia whose last name I cannot pronounce.

My wife helped me get rid of the sticks for now; my father-in-law will install the netting and wood; and we imitated our neighbor. Sometimes, birds of a feather need to flock together.