Johnson City

Starlings create loud, messy problem in Johnson City

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - Homeowners in a Johnson City neighborhood told us they can't escape loud, messy birds, called starlings.

As the sun goes down, the starlings gather in the Gump Addition neighborhood.

"It looks like a huge black cloud moving across the sky, it's insane," said Jonathan Tyson, who was visiting a friend in the neighborhood.

"You know what one bird tweet sounds like? Times that by like a billion and a half," said Parker Thomas, a resident.

On top of that, is the sound of people trying to get rid of the birds.

"I've seen people banging on pots and pans, and propane cannons," said Tyson.

"As long as these cannons and noise have been going on, I don't think it's working," Deborah Smyth told us.

Smyth told us she's lived in the neighborhood for 60 years.

She is one of many neighbors who went to the Memorial Park Community Center to find out if there is a better solution to the problem. They got advice from a representative with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The USDA representative suggests they thin neighborhood trees to disrupt the birds' habitat.

If that doesn't work, the USDA can come in for a week to do what they call "intense harassment." They would use professional lasers and pyrotechnics to try and get rid of the problem. It would cost the neighborhood $5,000-$7,000 to do have the USDA do that.

"We asked for a hand, raise a hand, to vote to see how many people would participate," said resident Wilbur Henderson.

Henderson told us the residents don't all agree on a solution.

"Have lots of different sides of people wanting to shoot the birds," he said. "A lot want to save the birds. We need like a committee together."

They started to form that committee right after the meeting.

Johnson City Commissioner David Tomita signed up for the committee. He said he lives in that neighborhood.

Some people have been concerned about diseases in the bird waste.

An expert with the Regional Health Department spoke at the meeting and explained there is little risk of getting sick, as long as you follow normal sanitary practices like washing your hands.

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