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Birds roost in Grande town centre

Sunday, February 9, 2014
A flock of birds believed to be martins, roosting on wires in Sangre Grande. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ

Hundreds of dark-coloured birds, identified as Martins, flock daily to overhead electrical lines in the heart of Sangre Grande. Though passers-by are always left in awe at the sight of the birds, which look like decorations on the electrical lines, some vendors and business owners are up in arms with the feathered animals, saying they are a nuisance and that they are creating a health hazard. The Sangre Grande Regional Corporation is now prepared to pay $100,000 to remove the birds, using a method which involves noise. 



But this is not sitting well with environmentalist Stephen Broadbridge, who said the proposed cost was “ridiculous.” For almost a year, the birds have been converging on the electrical lines at dusk, said chairman of the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation Terry Rondon. The birds would fly off at the crack of dawn the next day, he said. Below the lines are a cluster of businesses, including Royal Castle, Subway and the Sangre Grande vendors’ booths and market.


Rondon said the birds’ droppings had become a problem, as every morning the pavements had to be cleaned by a crew. “It has been causing a health hazard. Burgesses and the business community are complaining. The corporation will be partnering with the Ministry of the Environment to have this matter resolved,” he said. Last Christmas, Rondon said, they noticed the birds disappeared when scratch bombs and fire crackers were used. He said the corporation intended to use noise to scare the birds away.



Rondon willing to spend the money
For the birds to be permanently removed, Rondon said, it would cost “in excess of $100,000,” since they had to deal carefully with the electrical wires on which the birds gathered. He was not specific about what exactly would cost this much. “Let me say, this would put the regional corporation in debt. Money for me is not the problem where people are concerned. That is how I look at it. We pass through all the hurdles already. That is why I am telling them to spend the money and do it the right way.”


He said four artifical owls were previously placed on the electrical wires, hoping this would scare the birds away: but it did not work. Metal spikes had also been placed on the top of buildings; these also failed. Gerard Charles was one of several vendors on the Eastern Main Road who called for the birds to be destroyed. “We totally fed up,” said Charles, who was busy peddling vegetables. Other vendors agreed with Charles, saying the birds were disrupting their sales and would often “mess on their goods.”


Ramona Ramdial, Minister in the Ministry of the Environment, on Thursday said the ministry did give the corporation technical advice through the Forestry Division and the Environmental Management Authority.



Broadbridge: The cost is ridiculous
Broadbridge, owner of Caribbean Discovery Tours and a director of Papa Bois Conservation, did not agree with Rondon’s approach. Broadbridge suggested that mini-windmills be used on the electrical lines to chase the birds away. This, he said, would be less expensive and more effective. Broadbridge said he was willing to offer the corporation advice, but wondered if they would take it. “Organisations like that would not listen. I think the experts’ suggestions are ridiculous,” he said.


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