Birds are a problem at all bridges

Now that the new signal project at the Biddle and McAndrews intersection is about finished, are there any plans to clean the area under the overpass? Not only has the pigeon population left a widespread calling card, there also is an abundant amount of trash. Isn't it about time for the city to break out the hazmat suits? Also, can the pigeons be discouraged from roosting there?

— Steve M., Medford

Your suggestion of hazmat suits isn't far from the truth, Steve.

Every spring, the Oregon Department of Transportation sends a crew to power wash and scrape away the pigeon — actually rock dove — poo and clean up the street beneath. (Management of the Interstate 5 viaduct is ODOT's and not the city's responsibility.)

"It's not like hosing off your deck," ODOT spokesman Gary Leaming said. "We have to wear a respirator because the droppings carry diseases. It's not taken lightly."

These doves are a problem at nearly every bridge, but the McAndrews bridge is more noticeable because of the amount of traffic that goes through there, Leaming said.

There have been plenty of attempted solutions, including netting, sticky tape, porcupine quill strips and fake owls, but none of these options has proved effective. The sticky stuff gets dirty and then doesn't stick, and birds that get caught in the porcupine material die, only to have other birds roost on their corpses, Leaming said.

Kinda gross.

The quill strips were proposed for the Depot Street Bridge in Rogue River, but estimates ran about $10,000, raising the question, how much is it worth to have a feces-free bridge?

Traps also were suggested but those would need to be checked daily, and the captives would need to be released or euthanized, which also is objectionable.

"We've asked them (the pigeons/doves) nicely to leave, and they won't," Leaming said.

In regard to the trash under the bridge, contractors working on that intersection are required to clean up their mess, and every two to three weeks, street sweepers give McAndrews Road a dust off, said Cory Crebbin, Medford Public Works director.

Have a question for us? Send them to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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