A flock of birds continue to be anything but fine-feathered friends to pedestrians, businesses and parked cars in a block of downtown Lawrence.
A large flock of starlings and sparrows continue to use the trees along the 800 block of Massachusetts as an evening roosting site. The semi-nomadic birds seemed to have moved from the north end of the block to the south end, said one merchant.
"They're gone from up here," said Myles Schachter, owner of Connecting Point Computer Center, 813 Mass. "The birds are still around, unfortunately, but they're not by my store."
He said he had been given a tape of "birds in distress" to shoo the birds from the area. However, the birds left before Schachter played the tape, prompting him to loan it to Ernie Cummings, owner of Kizer-Cummings Jewelers, 833 Mass.
Cummings' store now is in the prime roosting area. But the tape has not proven successful, he said, because he does not have a good place to set speakers up when he has played it.
"I PROBABLY could use some help with getting it played correctly," Cummings said.
The persistent congregation is "very thick," he said.
"They come here religiously about 4:30 (p.m.) and leave about sunrise," Cummings said.
The dirty dilemma has Cummings wondering what to do next.
"It's kind of a perplexing situation," he said. "If we can't find a solution to the riddance of the birds, I think it's probably best to make some sort of plan for a scheduled maintenance of the debris on a regular basis."
Such a plan could be handled by merchants or the city, Cummings suggested.
"It's definitely an eyesore, in more ways than one," he said. "It's just a bad image thing."
FRED DEVICTOR, city director of parks and recreation, said he thought the problem had improved from the pre-Christmas conditions.
"We're still monitoring and staying on the problem and doing the cleaning," he said.
The monitoring is done by a full-time city employee, DeVictor said, who cares for downtown and surrounding parking lots.
"He, plus a lot of our staff, keeps an eye on a lot of those areas," DeVictor said.
The city does not have a set cleaning schedule, he said.
"We clean as necessary," DeVictor said. "We sweep up periodically, but as far as a major kind of cleaning where we've gotten water in there, and the city street department's water truck, we've done that three or four times."
He said he hoped the bird problem was "a one-shot deal . . . we want to be prepared for next time, too, if it happens."