Company returns to thwart Franklin Courthouse pigeons

A plague of pigeons has descended on the historic Franklin County Courthouse, decorating the front steps with blotches of white and defying all attempts to prevent them from roosting on the building.

The latest effort will involve placing a nearly translucent fish-wire net around the golden eagle perched above the front entrance.

That net wasn't up yet this week, but Franklin County commissioners were told it would be up soon and at no cost to the county, thanks to a company's commitment five years ago to solve the pigeon problem.

County employees have battled pigeons for years. County Administrator Fred Bowen said the birds love to build nests and roost in the covered area behind the golden eagle above the front doors.

Then, their waste gets on and near the front steps and doors, inconveniencing visitors to the courthouse, he said.

"It's just a cleaning nightmare," Bowen said.

Chicken wire used to cover the front of the courthouse where the eagle sits. But that was removed when that area of the roof was cleaned and restored.

Taxpayers approved a $10.2 million bond in 2002 to remodel of the building, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

The refurbishing project took two years and was finished in 2006, and cost $12 million. Efforts were made to match the original architect's 1912 plans.

In an effort to prevent pigeons from fouling up the entrance of the newly remodeled courthouse and hastening oxidation of the new copper roof, the county hired National Bird Control Inc. of Seattle in 2006 to get the birds off the ledge. The cost was about $16,000.

The company guaranteed it could keep the pesky pigeons from roosting on the roof, but so far, all attempts have been thwarted.

Bowen said they tried a bird barrier but that failed.

The company also tried installing high-pitched noisemakers, tiny metal spikes and more than 1,000 feet of shock stripping.

"We've done everything except take a shotgun after them," Bowen said.

-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; kpihl@tricityherald.com