Birds back to The Square


Au­tumn could be to blame for the in­crease of flocks of star­lings and spar­rows re­turn­ing to Palmer­ston North’s Square to roost at dusk.

The city coun­cil last year spent $50,000 in­stalling bird scar­ers to ward off the flocks that spend the night splat­ter­ing the ground be­neath, foot­paths, road­side and parked cars with their drop­pings.

But at the end of day­light sav­ing, the hordes had set­tled in again, undis­turbed.

Coun­cil prop­erty man­ager John Brenk­ley said the scar­ers were turned on, but the vol­umes and range of noises ap­pro­pri­ate for sum­mer needed to be changed with the sea­sons.

‘‘Au­tumn is more of a prob­lem, es­pe­cially with the star­lings.

‘‘It’s cool­ing down, and they want some wind pro­tec­tion, and they get that with the build­ings.’’

Brenk­ley said the birds got used to the scar­ers un­less the noise pat­terns were al­tered. Some of that could be done re­motely, but the in­stal­la­tion con­trac­tor had to get up among the branches to change the sound­tracks.

He said the chal­lenge was to break the habits of gen­er­a­tions of birds.

‘‘We have to pro­vide con­stant ag­i­ta­tion to put them off.’’

Brenk­ley was more hope­ful the bird scar­ers were hav­ing greater ef­fect than a range of ear­lier in­ter­ven­tions in­clud­ing hang­ing owls and CDs, and wa­ter jets.

But un­til The Square ex­per­i­ment de­liv­ered more pos­i­tive re­sults, in­stal­la­tion of ad­di­tional scar­ers on Main St out­side the Con­fer­ence and Func­tion Cen­tre had been put off.

Massey Univer­sity as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor in ecol­ogy and zool­ogy Is­abel Cas­tro pre­dicted the scar­ers would not work, or at least, not for long.

‘‘All I can say is that birds are smart and they learn.’’

Cas­tro said the coun­cil would be bet­ter spend­ing money hang­ing sails be­low the branches to col­lect the fer­tiliser.


Birds flock to The Square in Palmer­ston North at dusk.

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