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how to protect these birds and fight against droppings in the city

Starling “dormitories” have taken up residence in Reims (Marne) with the arrival of autumn. These birds make noise and their droppings are annoying, but they are still very popular with the population. And pampered by the League for the Protection of Birds (LPO) of Champagne-Ardenne.

A car covered in a carpet of droppings. Peeping at not being able to hear anything else. Welcome to Reims (Marne), or Troyes (Aube).

The responsible for these nuisances are the starlings. Their roosts are in unpruned trees, and they nest there abundantly.

In the City of coronations, two sectors have been particularly affected since the fall of autumn 2021. These are the places of the Chapter and the Forum (visible on the map below).

If the nuisances are there, they seem to inconvenience only a few people. A resident of the Croix-Rouge district explains to France 3 Champagne-Ardenne that these birds “are noisy until dark” and “their droppings are nauseating”.

Before she moved (she now avoids the area when she goes out), the smell was coming all the way to her house. It was hardly pleasant when she opened the windows. But his car and his balcony were not used as litter for starlings: the same cannot be said everywhere. “They are beautiful to see, but from afar”concludes this local resident.

Many positive comments on these birds nevertheless came up after a call for testimony on social networks. Aurelie greets “their whispers [vol en formation serrée; ndlr]it’s just beautiful for anyone who knows how to open their eyes”. But you just have to “not to be below when they pass”laughs Amandine.

Jonathan does not see “nuisances, rather beautiful birds”. Same “an aerial ballet is magnificent” for Maryse. Christelle is enchanted “to hear the birds”. And “it’s so beautiful to see the clouds of starlings in the setting sun”says Magalie (we can only prove her right by watching the video below).

video length: 26sec

The flight of the starlings of Reims

©Charles-Henry Boudet, France Televisions

Obviously, the League for the Protection of Birds (LPO) of Champagne-Ardenne is the friend of these starlings, and considers “that they have their place” in town (these are endemic species, the situation would be quite different if they were exotic). Joined by France 3 Champagne-Ardenne, the project manager Aurélien Deschatres poses the situation. “We don’t necessarily get more calls about it right now. It’s pretty stable from year to year.”

“In general, it is the municipalities that contact us for various problems with starlings, it is recurrent. These migratory birds come from northern and eastern Europe. They find warmth in the city, where it is less cold than in the countryside, and a certain security by the absence of predators.” These birds nest in tall trees, but now increasingly set their sights on smaller shrubs.

Getting them off the roost is a bit difficult. “There really isn’t a solution, otherwise the problem would have been solved a long time ago. Few scaring methods work.” Their favorite trees should have been pruned before they arrived. But now that they are there… And moving them away only briefly postpones the problem: the birds will go nest a little further. Their presence in Reims should continue until the arrival of spring. Before they return the following fall, often in the same tree.

The municipal hygiene and health service of Reims is acting as it can. “Every year we have requests on this subject, because of droppings or nests in a garden…” In Reims, the starlings are no longer “a species causing damage” (we don’t talk anymore “harmful species”) since a ministerial decree dating from July. They are therefore only huntable (by hunters, which is excluded in the middle of a city center).

Geography also explains why appropriate means are difficult to implement. A way “effective in a rural commune, like shooting a pistol at nightfall to scare birds, cannot be applied in the streets of Reims. People would be afraid, would want to protect the birds.”

The use of a falconer, who releases nozzles to regulate the population of starlings (which winter more and more in Reims because of global warming), has also been attempted. But the method takes a bit of time to set up properly. It is also possible”to prune the trees enough so that they no longer provide enough security for the starlings“, but it can also be complicated in the city center, when the trees are heritage or classified. The municipality of Reims is therefore looking for the most suitable means. In the meantime, the birds will be heard (and smelled). not necessarily to everyone.

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