Unwitting pedestrians and drivers who venture into the 800 block of Massachusetts Street must think they've entered the set of an Alfred Hitchcock movie.
From late afternoon into the night, hundreds (it sounds like thousands) of chattering starlings and sparrows take up residence in the trees on the west side of the street to roost and deposit droppings on the sidewalks, cars and perhaps even some unlucky people. Anyone who parks a car near the scene won't do it twice.
It's ironic that the trees that add so much to Lawrence's downtown also are to blame for such an unsanitary eyesore. City officials and merchants in the area seem to be maintaining a sense of humor about the invasion of the birds, but shoppers may not be so amused.
These problems are difficult to solve. Inhumane efforts to rid the trees of birds wouldn't be tolerated by the Lawrence citizenry, but isn't there something else city parks officials can do to get rid of the birds?
Lawrence is working hard to maintain its downtown and attract shoppers not only from Lawrence but from neighboring towns. What are out-of-town shoppers to think when they are greeted by sidewalks covered with bird droppings. Depending what time of day they shop, they may even be actively dodging the hazards.
Nature may take care of the issue by drawing the birds to some less-populated location, but officials shouldn't count on it. More effort needs to go into solving this truly grotesque situation in downtown Lawrence.