Torrance, CA

Torrance Home Suffers A Spooky Bird Invasion

Em Unravelling

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Many, many birdsPhoto by Somya Dinkar from Pexels

One week ago, a homeowner from Torrance discovered that in her absence from her family home, it had acquired a crowd of new residents: a flock of birds. There were around 1000 of them - the homeowner, called Kerri, said that they stopped counting at 800 birds.

The birds were apparently migratory (it's thought that they are of a breed called Vaux's swifts, or "chimney swifts" which are famous for swooping around in crowds at dusk, before retreating through any small hole they find) and they entered the house through the chimney. Once there, they pretty much made Kerri's home their home, swooping around the whole house making a mess.

I have never had a flock of birds in my house, but when my children were small, maybe 13 years ago, one single blackbird got into our kitchen and it was a surprisingly horrible experience. The sound of its wings beating in the small space, the guano that flew through the air, and its frantic flapping and cheeping led to me fleeing the kitchen entirely, hiding with my children in the sitting room until my husband came home from work. So when I saw what had happened to Kerri, I felt genuine sympathy.

You couldn’t walk in any spot in the living room, the kitchen and the hallway without stepping on bird droppings - Kerri, homeowner

The advice from the LA county animal control experts was to leave doors and windows open and hope for the birds to leave, but they seemed reluctant to go, so in the end, Kerri and her family had to move into a hotel overnight and remove the birds themselves using towels and boxes. There was then a whole load of mess to clean up - bird poop everywhere, including on the children's toys. It took two whole days to sort out and sounds genuinely traumatic.

Kerri's advice is for people to block their chimney flues during bird migration season, so that no one else has the experience of seeing their house turned into a film set for a remake of Alfred Hitchcock's famous horror movie The Birds, but even that isn't always foolproof. Although they didn't get into the house itself, around 1000 birds managed to fly down the chimney of a Montecito house this week.

We worked with Santa Barbara County Animals Services to figure out how to safely free the birds. We had hoped they would fly up and out the flue on their own overnight...[but we] returned to the residence Monday morning to find the birds still trapped at the base of the fireplace. - Montecito Fire and County Animal Services

Like Kerri, the Montecito Fire and County Animal Services team realised that the birds were not going to make their way out on their own, so they designed a chute system to free them from the chimney. The rescue was effective, and thanks to the fact the fireplace was boarded up, the house was a lot less messy than the Torrance one after its similar invasion.

Seems it's the time of year for this sort of bird to seek out shelter during its migration. I'm going to agree with the Torrance home owner on this one: probably worth putting something in chimneys for a few weeks until the risk has passed.

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A lover of horizons, hills, and words. Likes to write about uncomfortable things because too many people steer round those parts of life.

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