Thursday, March 26, 2009


This is coolbert:

"A bird strike (sometimes bird strike, bird hit, or BASH - (Bird Aircraft Strike Hazard)) is a collision between an airborne animal (usually a bird or bat) and a man-made vehicle, especially aircraft."

I remember this very well.

From over thirty years now. But could have been yesterday.

An avian [bird] population, descending upon a U.S. Army base [Ft. Campbell], and doing so in biblical proportions, causing a simultaneous multiplicity of problems, among them the greatly increased possibility of BASH incidents.

Described as “blackbirds” [starlings/grackles/cowbirds/red-winged blackbirds], teeming millions of them, finding superb winter nesting and roosting sites in the forests surrounding Ft. Campbell.

[military bases generally speaking quite often have large contiguous wooded areas that make excellent nature preserves, habitat for a variety of animals!]

For the birds - - GREAT!!

For the humans, animal populations, AND ARMY AVIATION AVIATORS in residence at Ft. Campbell, A DISASTER OF UNMITIGATED PROPORTIONS!!! Seemingly without practical remedy.

Ft. Campbell was at the time and is now the home base of the 101st Air Mobile Division [often described as an airborne division, more correctly an air mobile unit!!] HEAVY IN HELICOPTERS, ROTARY WING AIRCRAFT!!

[Ft. Campbell is currently also the home base of the Special Operations Aviation Regiment [SOAR] and a Special Forces [SF] group. The former a helicopter heavy unit, the latter an airborne unit practicing parachuting from fixed wing aircraft on a regular basis. Ft. Campbell is very active with Army aviation.]

As to the flocks of "blackbirds":

"their comings and goings have since daily halted plane take-offs and landings."

The potentiality for a serious and lethal BASH incident is magnitudes greater for a rotary-wing “slow-mover” such as a helicopter in contrast to a fixed-wing “fast-mover”?

A disaster, “seemingly without practical remedy”? NO! A remedy was found to the bird problem.

"The War on the Blackbirds"

"an extermination program. Crop-dusting airplanes and helicopters would douse the roosting birds with Tergitol S-9, a strong, biodegradable detergent that washes the oil from the birds' feathers. Without the oil, which helps to insulate them, the blackbirds would begin to die from the cold —if the temperature remained below about 45° F."

The remedy was - - to KILL THE BIRDS. Spray with an oil - - the birds freezing to death in the winter temperatures, the insulating properties of the bird's feathers being lost. AND THIS WAS DONE!!

This decision of the military, brutal and harsh as it was, nonetheless EFFECTIVE, was not without controversy. THE SPRAYING OF THE BIRDS BECAME AN ITEM COVERED ON THE TELEVISION EVENING NEWS. [you can imagine the scene made of thousands of dying birds, on the ground, in clumps, slowly freezing to death, squawking and fluttering around in their death agony] In the minds of animal rights activists and humanitarians, an ATROCITY and HOLOCAUST without redemption was being committed!!

In response to the spraying and killing of the birds, some gadfly in New York City sued to prevent the Army from killing the “blackbirds” in an inhumane manner!! An outraged Kentuckian responded by suing to prevent the city of New York from killing rats in an inhumane manner!!

Extraordinary measures were required and implemented. Extraordinary situations require extraordinary measures? Surely this was the case?


1 comment:

Jan. said...

I decided to do a Google search about the Army solution to the blackbird problem we had read about so many years ago. I found your blog. I have long wanted to tell the other end of that story….So I will tell it to you.

We bought our home in Southwest Wisconsin in 1969. Taped to the door by the previous owners was a copy of the Ogden Nash poem, Beware the Grackle. We had no idea what that meant… until dusk came and with it thousands and thousands of grackles coming to roost in the spruce forest just behind our home! For many years we overrun with those nasty birds, messy and pooping all over. The children were unable to play among the trees because of the grackles. At dusk the sky would be blackened by waves of the birds. People walking on the sidewalk across the valley from the house couldn’t hear one another in conversation because of the noise made by the birds; And there was nothing we could do about them. Each fall they would migrate somewhere and we would breathe relief for some months of freedom without the horrible things in our backyard.

One year we read that the Army was struggling with the serious problem of the grackles and other blackbirds near and on base at Fort Campbell. A week or so later we read that the Army came up with a solution just as you reported in your blog. Fast forward to spring…. our grackles in our backyard never returned! THANK YOU, US ARMY!!!! The ones destroyed on that base included our thousands of roosting grackles! And when we sold our home 3 years ago, we didn’t have to post the Ogden Nash poem on the door for the new owners.

I just thought you might like to hear about the other end of the story.