Dead Birds Bring Metro Mess

Sunday was not a fun day to be on Metro. I descended into the Red Line that morning to see a “RESIDUAL DELAYS” notice warning of single tracking between Gallery Place and Rhode Island Avenue. Now, generally single tracking between so many stations means these delays are anything but “residual,” and when the “minutes left” on all the PID screens blanked out I knew it was time to bite the bullet and go up to take a taxi.

Two Birds, one dead, the other mourning. But the fecal matter really hit the rotary ventilation around noon, when birds started dying. Yeah, that’s right: the birds were dying. Metro riders panicked when bird carcasses started turning up around Rhode Island Ave, Takoma Park, Greenbelt, College Park, Anacostia, Naylor Road, and Branch Ave stations. With sightings of someone in a black pickup truck spreading what looked like poison, the stations were closed, shuttle buses were brought in, the FBI and NIH came in to investigate the possibility of terrorism, and an already-crappy Metro day was made crappier by what would turn out to be a pest abatement program done wrong.

Apparently Metro’s contractor for pest control is supposed to spread rat poison late nights or early mornings, and the poison guy’s responsibilities include cleaning up the collateral damage of bird and other animal carcasses. Instead, the poisoning was done at noon on a Sunday, and, in what looks to have been a bout of Not My Job Award-worthy laziness, no effort was made to clean up the dead birds — at least, not right away.

The one silver lining to this whole bird-poison mess is that most of the birds killed were English House Sparrows and European Starlings, both of which are species non-indigenous to North America, whose introduction has led to the decline of other native American bird populations. DCeiver gives us the dirt on starlings. The pests.

Thanks, Metro!

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2 Comments so far

  1. KCinDC (unregistered) on July 30th, 2007 @ 9:14 am

    So this sort of haphazard scattering of poison and mass bird slaughter happens at regular intervals, but we haven’t been aware of it previously because it normally happens during less populated hours?

    And if it’s targeting pigeons, I don’t understand how it can be done overnight. Aren’t the pigeons asleep then?


  2. Carl Weaver (unregistered) on July 30th, 2007 @ 8:40 pm

    Pigeons never sleep. They are always watching you.



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