Monday, January 8, 2007

Grackles in a Pancake Mine!

This morning, city officials decided to shut down a significant portion
of Austin's central business district due to the discovery of a covey of
dead birds

Meanwhile, Gotham panics when confronted with a strange pancake smell.

I'm not going to second guess the response to the pile of avian rats on
Congress Ave. Nor will I try to determine which eldritch spell summoned
from the Permian Basin
was used to extinguish these fowl lives.

I will however, try to figure out under what circumstances a bunch of
dead birds would require the closing of a central business district.
What sort of risk assessment process went on here?

1. PANDEMIC! O.k., the birds may have had a virulent version of avian
cedar fever. Some of the carcasses have been sent to our Aggie brethren
to be tested for bird flu. We'll get the results in a week or so. Then
we will close Congress Ave. again? If the folks in the hazmat outfits
scooped up the carcasses, pureed them, placed them in 3 oz bottles and placed them in one quart zip top bags, what is the risk?

2. NERVE GAS ATTACK! Then these truly were the grackles in the
coalmine, who gave their lives for us. Only the bad guys released the
gas at 3:00 am on a Monday morning. He should at least wait until the
Lege is in session, so as to terminate some Bees as well as birds.

3. A DISTURBING MESSAGE IS BEING SENT! - Homeland Security necromancers
find an ancient passage in the code of federal regulations that speaks
ominously of the scents of phantom flapjacks aligning with the mass
suicide of capital city trash birds. Maple Alert!

4. JUST ANOTHER GRACKLE MUNDY - My just-don't-have-to-work day.

5. YUPPIE TERROR - Rich fella or fellette from out-of-state, encountering the foul stench of grackle fecal splatter, sets out a Williams-Sonoma bowl of hand-tooled Vermont pigeon poison. Problem solved. (A real Austinite, or any grad of University of Texas would use a shotgun, just like the pros.)

So what did we learn? I'll have to think on that some more.

photo courtesy of Ikayama


Chandler Howell said...

First Post! (Sorry...the old Slashdot instincts die hard sometimes)

As a former 7-year resident of Austin, I'd say that they should check those birds for signs of "lead poisoning." From what I saw, the #1 cause of mass grackle deaths in downtown Austin was usually a pellet gun. While the die-off seems to have started a little bit late for that (black birds are hard to shoot in the dark), grackles were usually thick enough that random fire would probably have brought some down.

Dutcher Stiles said...

First comment! Schweet!
And from the Cubicle.

The grackles have been in odd roosting mode the past couple of days, making it feel more like September than January. I just figured someone in one of those new dee-luxe condos in that area had their fill. Normally I'd attribute it to the boyish hijinks of UT Greco-Athletic community, but school won't reconvene for another week or so.