What do you think?

A reptile-themed magic act? Decoration tips of the 1980s? Snake handling on public display?

Would you believe pest control?

What we are looking at is Warren County Commissioner Bobby Johnson on a clear day in September 1988 demonstrating his community’s effort to frighten pigeons from the county courthouse.

Pigeons have a tendency to use such public buildings as regular roosts and restrooms, and they leave a mess.

This was not a new problem. The archives of The Augusta Chronicle make a consistent case that birds, most often pigeons, had been the plague of many seats of local government over the past century.

As this photo indicates, such problems often inspired remarkable measures. Here, for example, plastic snakes were attached to the building’s columns to scare away the birds.

“Bird shoots” aimed at solving the problem seem to have been regular events around Georgia courthouses even into recent times.

The Chronicle reported such an event in suburban Atlanta’s Gwinnett County in 1974. Its sheriff told The Associated Press that several men firing shotguns over several hours had bagged about 80 birds.

Their effort drew praise from Georgia’s legendary Secretary of State Ben Fortson, who said, “That’s the only way to get rid of pigeons.”

Fortson was something of a bird removal expert because he had spent years trying to rid Georgia’s gold-domed state Capitol of starlings, a smaller but more numerous winged nemesis.

Fortson said they tried to use guns, but state-sanctioned marksmen were overwhelmed. There were too many birds and firepower wasn’t working.

But fireworks did.

Fortson rattled their roosts with Roman candles. The birds departed and did not return, he said.

But pigeons seemed more pervasive.

In 1970, The Chronicle reported on pigeon problems plaguing several county seats – Sparta, Washington, Thomson and Madison. Shotguns were usually reached for to solve the problem.

Warren County’s inflatable plastic snakes were only marginally successful in 1988, according to county officials. The same was reported in Sylvania, where Screven County workers were trying to trap the pigeons but found that working the traps was time-consuming.

Taliaferro County might have had the best solution by letting nature take its course.

Screech owls had taken up housekeeping in the county seat of Crawfordville and kept the pigeons away from the courthouse. The screech owls also weren’t as messy as the pigeons.

“I let ’em come and go,” a county commissioner said.


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Contact Info: 1- 877– 4– NO-BIRD (www.pigeonpatrol.ca)