On the morning of January 8th, 2007 something strange happened on Congress Ave. Birds fell out of the sky. Literally. I remember hearing this news and thinking to myself “is this how it’s going to end?” According to Texas A&M these birds fell victim to parasites and a sudden drop in temperature.
The good news is the world did not end. The bad news is that mother nature only claimed a handful of these birds – Grackles. They’re loud, aggressive, and poo everywhere. If you’ve ever been to Whole Foods and decided to enjoy your meal al fresco, a Grackle likely pulled up a chair at your table, looked you dead in the eye, and told you who’s in charge without every saying another word but ‘caw caw’.
I live on the 4th floor of my condo, so my windows meet the tree tops. It’s a stunning view, really. To be downtown with a verdant view is a luxury. Until, this past September when the Grackles took over my tree tops. They must number in the thousands with a communal biological clock which you could set your watch to. These birds became my alarm clock… at 5:30am. My business is real estate and I have no good reason to be up at 5:30. I decided to take action.
At a recent DANA board meeting I learned that Grackles don’t like lasers. Apparently, if you shine a laser light into the tree tops it irritates them so much that the Grackles move elsewhere. The University of Texas used to have a problem with grackles. Their solution was to fire shotgun blanks. It worked, but I don’t think my neighbors would think well of me it I took that route. Light seemed like a harmless way to deal with the problem. I don’t have any lasers, and I’m not sure where to get them, but I do have a powerful Mag-Lite.
I placed the Mag-Lite next to my bed and, like clockwork, at 5:30am thousands of birds erupted in cacophony of noise. I jumped out of bed, grabbed my Mag-Lite and proceeded to illuminate the trees, shaking and directing the light beam over several tree tops next to my building and across the street. (This must have looked very strange to those heading to work in the morning.) Amber thought I was nuts. It didn’t take more than a second for thousands of birds to migrate to another spot a few blocks away. I did this for two weeks and the Grackles are gone and no longer wake me up at 5:30. Instead, they’ve gone to the other side of my building. So, neighbors if you are reading this, get your self a Mag-Lite and get back to bed.
There is a lively discussion about Grackles on yelp
“Each individual of the society has a right to be protected by it in the enjoyment of his life, liberty, and property, according to standing laws. He is obliged, consequently, to contribute his share to the expense of this protection; and to give his personal service, or an equivalent, when necessary.”
– John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776
As you all are winding down today, take a moment and reflect on the important day today is. It’s Veterans day.
Downtown Austin held host to a parade honoring those who have served our country. The event began at 9 AM from the Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge and traveled up to the Capital Building. Viewing wass available all along Congress Avenue. A Ceremony at the South Capital steps followed the parade.
Recently Neighborhood Watch signs have begun to sprout on downtown Austin’s light poles. The Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association [DANA] funded the printing and installation of 23 of signs. These signs serve two functions: first, they remind vistors that this is a neighborhood with proactive residents interested in maintaining a safe environment. Second, this is great method of informing people about what DANA stands for. These signs couldn’t have been rolled out so quickly without the assistance of the DAA, which was very helpful in getting us the building contacts. Where the DAA is generally the champion for downtown businesses, DANA is considered the champion of downtown residents and you should consider attending the next DANA event.
Check out the map of sign locations.
Downtown Austin is special for quite a few reasons. Those that live, work, and/or play here already know that, of course. It’s so special, in fact, that there is a TV show on KLRU dedicated specifically to downtown Austin. It’s appropriately titled, “DOWNTOWN”
Per the show’s website, “DOWNTOWN highlights the people, places, stories and situations that make DOWNTOWN: As Austin As It Gets™.”
The Emmy® award winning show is definitely worth a watch. You can watch previous seasons on the website, and the new season, season 4, on KLRU-TV, Austin PBS, every Thursday at 8:00 p.m. The show is sponsored by the Downtown Austin Alliance.
The idea is to encourage home owners to make “green” decisions whenever possible. But, at a time when home owners are already facing a slow down, this feels more like a tax on the home owner. When it comes time to sell a house, the seller will be required to pay Austin Energy $200-300 for a report that gives buyers a snapshot of how energy efficient the property is.
“Any upgrades would be voluntary, although officials are hoping that the
disclosures would prompt either buyers or sellers to gradually make
improvements that will cut energy use in the city.”
From the City of Austin web site:
Voters did not pass Proposition 2, which would have prohibited the City from entering into future agreements to provide financial incentives in connection with the development or redevelopment of property that includes one or more retail uses, and to stop the City from providing financial incentives under certain existing agreements in connection with the development or redevelopment of property that includes one or more retail uses. The unofficial vote tally on this proposition was 126,064 “for” and 136,609 “against.”