SIKESTON -- Sikeston city officials will once again work with a wildlife specialist in attempt to keep the upper hand over blackbirds.
A town meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Nov. 20 at the Clinton Building.
This meeting will once again feature advice from Robert Byrd, wildlife biologist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
"We will discuss what residents can do with the blackbird problem, if the roost develops this winter," Byrd said. "They are historically a major problem in Sikeston."
"Please bring any and all concerns you may have in reference to the birds in your neighborhood," said Trey Hardy, community redevelopment coordinator for the city of Sikeston.
While blackbirds haven't shown themselves to be a problem yet this year, "it's still early," Byrd said. "The earliest I've seen blackbird roosts in Sikeston is about Thanksgiving."
Sometimes starlings roosts appear earlier -- sometimes even in summer -- but blackbirds roosts "generally don't develop until December," according to Byrd.
During the meeting, "harassment and hazing" techniques residents can use to discourage blackbird roosting will be discussed along with suggestions on equipment that can be loaned to the city and technical assistance.
"We will also talk about what people can do as far as what kind of trees they plant, what they can do with their existing trees," Byrd said.
During last year's meeting, Byrd spoke for about 20 minutes then addressed questions for another 40 minutes, he recalled.
"A good question and answer session - that's what it was last year," Byrd said. "If you have any questions at all, here is your opportunity to get those questions answered."
Resident participation can be an important part of discouraging blackbirds from roosting here, "so getting information out is a big thing," he said.
"Last year we were pretty lucky and didn't have a big roost in Sikeston," Byrd said.
Historically, the blackbird problem is usually worse, however, he said, "so people should be prepared. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst."
In the winter of 2001-2002, there were well over 6 million birds in town, according to Byrd.
Sikeston is not the only community in the area taking proactive measures against blackbirds.
The city of New Madrid has also decided to bring Byrd in.
"We work with anybody that wants help," Byrd said. "Right now we have programs in place to help Sikeston, New Madrid, Malden, and Kennett. We've worked with other towns in the past, but those are the big ones."