Birds touch down at county airport

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 24, 2005

A wetlands restoration project at the Shelby County Airport has gone well.

In fact, it may be going a little too well.

When the county recently began work to extend the airport’s runway from 4,400 feet to 5,000 feet, it also took action to restore the wetlands located west of the airport.

&uot;The wetland project was so successful that a large number of large birds such as Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets and Canadian Geese have taken up residence on the airfield,&uot; County Manager Alex Dudchock said. &uot;This collection poses a serious safety hazard to aircraft using the airport, which concerns the county and the FAA.&uot;

The Calera City Council learned about the problem at last week’s work session.

The county soon plans to begin implementing techniques to scare away the birds. Local residents may hear the work in progress.

&uot;We will be operating a propane cannon that will make booming noises approaching 125 decibels,&uot; Dudchock said.

Propane cannons are often used to scare the birds into flight. A pre-measured amount of propane is fed into the cannon’s firing chamber, and a spark is introduced into the chamber, resulting in a loud bang. They do not shoot projectiles in the air.

A cannon approaching 125 decibels would be similar in noise to a chain saw, air raid siren, band concert or thunder. The county would only use the cannon between 8 a.m. and 8:30 p.m