Tens of thousands of passengers at Nashville’s International Airport have seen little birds darting around the concourse, ticketing counters and baggage areas.
Some unsuspecting passengers tell tales of being dive-bombed or even hit by bird droppings.
“It’s a hazard and safety problem,” said airport spokesperson Shannon Sumrall. “The birds often gather around some of the food courts where they can pick up crumbs.”
She said netting, noisemakers and even birdhouses have done little to catch the birds and keep them out of the terminal.
Now the airport is trying an eye-catching technique to drive the birds out the doors where they flew in the terminal.
Beginning Thursday, passengers have been startled to see falconers with birds of prey roaming the inside corridors of the airport.
“We are here trying to get rid of the pest birds that are inside the airport terminal,” Jeff Fincher explained to curious passengers as he walked through the concourses with Tater the Harris Hawk attached to his left arm. “The idea is to scare them out of here, and keep them out, and know a bird of prey is in here.”
In between questions and pictures, Tater was sometimes let loose when he saw one of the dozen or so European starlings or sparrows darting above passengers.
The action often makes passengers pause to get out their smartphones.
“We might make more money, if we charge $1 for each picture taken,” Fincher joked.
Fincher and Don Hervig own the three-year-old company called Raptor Abatement.
“We have not caught any birds here, but we have chased a few away,” said Hervig, who began the abatement Friday morning.
Fincher was asked what happens if Tater catches one of the offending little birds.
“Well, we try to take the bird away before he kills it, and take it outside where it belongs,” the falconer said while looking at Tater. “We are trying to be sensitive.”
Raptor Abatement says it has a seven-day contract to scare away the birds.