It’s the pigeons vs. Oak Park
Updated: June 13, 2012 2:22PM
I’m walking down Lake Street near Marion in Oak Park on one of those perfect early summer days, much like we had last week, enjoying the scenery.
Suddenly, a man in a heavy coat on a bicycle whizzes past me, almost knocking me down. I try to catch a glimpse just as his hand reaches into a backpack and dumps a handful of birdseed onto the sidewalk.
“It’s the pigeon feeder!” I thought to myself.
But before I could get a good look at the perp, he was gone. Pigeons were already swooping down to feed on the food provided by this nameless benefactor. I imagine there were some even trying to claw through the fencing under the Marion Street viaduct to get at the seed.
This incident I describe was not last week but in the early 1990s. Here it is 20 years later and Oak Park is still trying to come up with ways to solve its pigeon problem. Last week, officials even considered the most extreme answer to the problem — termination with extreme prejudice. Officials were calling it euthanasia.
Thankfully, the village rejected that answer out of hand. Killing the pigeon population seems really creepy, especially for a town that goes to such great lengths as Oak Park to foster the idea of live and let live.
But let’s face it. Pigeons can be a health hazard. They eat and poop. And those are about the only thoughts that go through their bird brains.
So how can Oak Park get rid of the critters?
I have some ideas, although
not as extreme as rounding them all up and killing them. But here goes:
Birds of prey like a falcon or hawk will scare the bejeezus out of the pigeons. I’m just not sure how Downtown Oak Park shoppers will take the impending carnage of falcons dive-bombing pigeons and carrying them away.
Moth balls on the ledge are a trick my grandmother used to use to keep the pigeons away. I tried it once on my Berwyn apartment but it didn’t take, which is probably why I moved to Oak Park. Might not work but Dessel’s Hardware wouldn’t mind the attempt.
Hot and spicy spices. Now that I live out in the exurbs, I’ve tried spicy spices to get rid of the chipmunks that live under my front stoop. Again, if the village were to try this, it would be a boon for Penzey’s Spices on Lake Street.
Birth control. Republicans might not like this, but birth control is an obvious way to control the pigeon population and you’ve got to know that Oak Parkers would be universally for it. I’m not exactly sure how you get a contracepted flock, but a $1 million study should fill us in nicely.
There are other options, but loud noises, water spraying and spikes just doesn’t seem to be the Oak Park way. The Oak Park way is to put on dark clothing and to surreptitiously ride a bike though the village while dropping bird seed here and there.