ELLSWORTH — The publisher of the Ellsworth American cried fowl Tuesday night as he related a problem to the City Council about some feathered friends that routinely perch outside his building.
Alan Baker related a grim account that was a blend of Alfred Hitchcock’s suspense classic “The Birds,” and a tale of high-stepping reporters who must flutter across a carpet of pigeon droppings to get to work.
The council was being confronted with yet another Ellsworth poop problem. Last week, the council handled the pooper-scooper issue during the discussion of a proposed dog ordinance for the city.
It appears the pigeons have developed a penchant for perching on top of an air-conditioner platform at an attorney’s office near Baker’s newspaper office. It is not clear if they are there because they need a legal opinion or simply have a love of the law.
Baker said that about a year ago, the pigeons began roosting on the platform. Large, black balloons with big, white eyes were installed as a deterrent, but the pigeons viewed their wide-eyed neighbors as simply a nuisance, not something to take flight from. The heavily fertilized roof now looks like the bottom of a bird cage, without an Ellsworth American on the bottom.
The second summer of the problem, Baker said, had brought complaints from customers and staff. Although he related the matter with good humor, he did not minimize the health problems that could develop. He said the problem recently became so serious that the back steps of the building had to be hosed down before Gov. John R. McKernan visited the newspaper during last week’s Capital for a Day.
Baker said the pigeon droppings hang from overhead utility wires and accumulate in the drain gutters. He said the problem had spread to other areas in the city. The councilors confirmed that they were aware of the problem. “Maybe we should have an ordinance that you can’t feed the pigeons,” said Councilor Roger Dow.
Baker said he was uncertain where the pigeons had come from, but speculated the birds might have moved to the city after the landfill closed. The councilors said they knew there had been seagulls at the landfill, but not pigeons.
The problem, Baker said, is common in cities across the country, “But I do think that it is bigger than we are.”
Bangor has adopted a planned-parenthood program for its feathered friends. Officials said in June that the city plans to feed grain laced with a birth-control agent to its pesky pigeons.
The Ellsworth councilors did not come to a decision about the vexing problem, but they did agree that the pigeons should not be poisoned or shot. Baker said he wished only to apprise the councilors of the problem. It now is up to them to decide if they want to grapple with the issue at a regular council meeting.