Caribou pastor ‘besieged’ with pigeons

5 years ago

CARIBOU, Maine — Don Owen, lead pastor at the Caribou Assembly of God on Sweden Street, shared his concerns regarding a “bird problem” with city councilors on Dec. 10.

“I believe we have a bird problem in Caribou,” he said. “My church facility has been besieged for the last three years with pigeons and we have done everything in our ability that we are aware of.”

Owen said that, to no avail, he has consulted with bird experts and purchased electronic devices designed to scare the birds.

“Pigeons are a destructive bird, and a dirty bird,” he continued, “and they make a mess. They perch at both entrances of our building, front and rear. I don’t know a good answer, but I did want to make sure that you as a city council are aware of it.”

Don Owen, lead pastor at the Caribou Assembly of God, discusses his three-year battle with pigeons perching over both entrances of his church during a Dec. 10 city council meeting. (Chris Bouchard)

Mayor David Martin asked Owen if he had any suggestions, adding that he did not believe any bird experts were sitting on the council. The pastor told the mayor that most bird experts suggested devices designed to scare the birds.

“So they all had something to sell?” the mayor asked. “Maybe you could speak with the Maine Warden Service.”

Owen said he had already spoken to a member of the warden service from Woodland, at which point the mayor asked if he would like to see a city ordinance preventing residents from feeding birds.

“Possibly,” the pastor said. “I had a conversation with the city manager this past week, and he brought up some very good points. There are people who like to feed ducks at Collins Pond, but I don’t know how to address one species of bird.”

Martin joked that residents “can’t shoot firearms within city limits.”

“That’s right,” said Martin, “or else we’d be doing it,” eliciting laughter from nearly everyone in attendance.

The mayor suggested listening to “the people who don’t have anything to sell.” Owen said, “Those are the ones saying to eliminate their food source.” He then told the pastor he should consider speaking to people who live in areas with a higher pigeon concentration to see how they handle the problem.

“In the cities, they use predator birds to eliminate them,” Owen said. “There are devices that will imitate predator birds. We had one electronic device that screams predator and distress calls, but all that did was annoy our neighbors, so we had to stop.”

The councilors indicated they would consider the matter but took no action. Later in the meeting Councilor Mark Goughan said he is open to any future suggestions.

“As far as birds go, I was blessed to have two grandsons and a .22 on my farm,” Goughan said. “But they are a filthy bird and, like Mr. Martin said, I’m willing to listen to anything.”