Don't be alarmed - it's just the cannon to scare off the birds

Don't be alarmed - it's just the cannon to scare off the birds
File photo of the Interstate Bridge courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

PORTLAND, Ore. - If you're heading across the Interstate Bridge and hear a series of big booms, stay calm and just keep on going.

From now through mid-March, the Oregon Department of Transportation will be using a propane orchard cannon to try to detract starlings from the bridge.

Every fall, thousands of the birds migrate to our area and many of them roost on the Interstate Bridge, particularly on the lift spans.

What's the big deal?

Their bird droppings create quite a mess by coating the bridge spans, catwalks, roadway, vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians.

So in the next couple of months, ODOT crews will using a propane orchard cannon to create loud noises to startle the birds.

For those who use the bridge to travel between Portland and Vancouver, that means you might get a little startled as well. The booms could occur as often as once every 15 seconds. Those who live and work nearby will also be able to hear them.

What's the schedule for this?

The times will vary based on the reaction of the birds, so there is no set timetable. ODOT does that for a reason - it keeps the birds from becoming accustomed to a regular pattern.

What is a propane orchard cannon?

Propane powered orchard cannons were originally designed to disturb birds in fruit orchards. They create a loud noise - the boom of an air cannon - to startle the birds.