Returning to roost

Now that the long, harsh winter is ended, more Minoters are spending time outdoors and perhaps shopping on Main Street in Minot’s historic downtown shopping district. To get their shopping done, though, they may have to contend with the downtown pigeons.

Shopkeepers and downtown workers past and present have different views on the pigeons and the possible effects they have on business and the aesthetics of the area.

“They’ve always been a problem. They’re just awful,” said Dean Caldwell, who used to own various downtown buildings and businesses but who now spends his time at Big Boy’s Toys on Ninth Street Southeast, just east of the East Burdick Expressway bridge.

When he operated downtown, though, he tried various methods of controlling their behavior.

“I found a product that keeps them off the buildings and I had one on the Fair building, which is one I owned,” he said. “We put on this thing called Nixalite that has little fingers and they can’t land on it and it’s worked for years, but that’s the only thing you can do with it.”

The “Nixalite” he spoke of is a brand name of a type of bird barrier that uses spikes to prevent nesting and landing.

The product description on the website for Nixalite of America Inc. (www.nixalite.com) describes the product family in a video as “since 1950 the world’s number one deterrent for roosting birds and climbing animals. These products are humane yet effective for birds of all sizes.”

The humane aspect of the bird spikes, though, is important for multiple reasons.

“If you poison them, they’re pretty smart so once one of them dies they won’t go near where that happened again,” Caldwell said.

Some people, though, just don’t want them to die at all, with reactions ranging from disagreeing with the method to outright repulsion at the idea.

“They’re a pain, but I’m not awfully good about going after them because I’m not fond of when they put the poison out,” said Betty Fedorchak, the owner of Esoterica, a South Main Street woman’s clothing store. “When you see a pigeon affected by the poison, they seem to go through an unnecessary amount of hurt.”

Amanda Mertesdorf, who grew up with a pet pigeon and is a student at Headquarters Hair Academy located directly across the street from Esoterica, agrees with that assessment and says that other students there do, too.

“We like them because they’re entertaining and cute,” she said. “We also did notice that they must be eating something that’s making them sick because there were a few sick ones and dead ones on the street and on the sidewalk, and one girl rescued one of them, which was super tame, so there must have been something wrong with it.”

The opinion of Mertesdorf and her fellow students should hold some sway in any debate because the primary pigeon nest downtown is located on their building.

“The only place I have seen (pigeons) is that one place downtown on the old white peak. That’s the only place I see them en masse,” said Bonny Kemper, the executive director of Minot Downtown Business and Professional Association, of the white peak above a window display for an antiques shop on the former Masonic Lodge building.

Kemper said that the pigeons aren’t much in her thoughts these days and indicated that they didn’t seem to be much of a problem now but that they were more of one in the past.

“I know there was a time a couple years back that we did a study downtown to conduct research and see what to do about them downtown,” she said. “There was a delegation of people who didn’t want anything done with the pigeons.”