What's That Screeching Sound? - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

What's That Screeching Sound?

Burlington, Vermont - June 12, 2007

For more than sixty years, Beansie's has fed Burlington: both warm-weather visitors to Battery Park and some of the park's feathered residents.

The owner of Beansie's Bus, Bill Peters, chuckles, "One time we had a car parked in front of the bus and this gal was eating a pepper steak and the seagull literally took it right out of her hand!"

When asked why seagulls have such a hankering for spicy sandwiches, Peters answers, "They like anything, they're not fussy."

The gulls can be so aggressive, Beansie's and the city both put up signs saying not to feed the birds. So when we heard a loud, piercing screech in Battery Park, we wondered what kind of pterodactyl moved into the trees there.

But it turns out the racket is a recording. It is designed to mimic the sound of a sick or injured bird, to make it seem this is an unfriendly place for the real things. Bill Peters observes, "It keeps the birds off the ground, mostly."

Obviously, not all the birds were scared away. But the city's parks and recreation department says, anecdotally, the recording is working very well.

Parks & recreation director Wayne Gross explains, "The number of complaints has gone way down. It is an annoying sound. But that's apparently what it takes to do the job. And I think the park visitors in general are much happier with that than being bothered by seagulls."

Right now, Burlington has no plans to put the screech machine in any other parks or on beaches, because they haven't gotten as many complaints about other locations as they used to in Battery Park.

The robot bird is a few years old, designed to be invisible. Most people don't even seem to notice the screeching is fake. It humanely tells the gulls to 'git when they're doing what comes naturally.

Bill Peters laughs, "Remember, they have to eat, too!"

Just not here.

Jack Thurston - WCAX News

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