OXFORD - Everybody at the Oxford City Council meeting Monday night was wondering what Oxford resident Virgil Eady was about to say when he opened up the Citizen Concerns section of the meeting with, "We've got 30 residents in Oxford that need to go."
Eventually, they found out he wasn't talking about nosy neighbors or troublemakers - he was talking about dozens of buzzards that have made the orange and white water tower on Watson Street their home.
"We're not talking about just a few," he told Oxford City Council members Monday. "There used to be 10, but I swear there's at least 30 now - I stopped counting after 30."
Oxford Police Chief Clark Miller said he noticed the other day nearly 50 at the water tower and more of the big birds at area farms.
Fellow Oxford resident Janice Ellis, who also lives near the water tower, said the birds have basically lived on the water tower for two or three years and have multiplied since.
"When they are there, they line all the way around the railing at the top of the water tower and around the railing at the bottom," she said. "I didn't see them on the ground, too, until the other day."
Eady said he doesn't like the fact that the birds relieve themselves on his vehicles.
"I'm sure it's detrimental to the (water) tower too because bird droppings are acidic," Councilman Frank Davis said.
Miller said he was concerned that this could cause health problems for residents.
Ellis said the birds don't bother her family too much - they don't make too much noise and the family keeps their vehicles parked inside a garage.
"We enjoy watching them fly, but I know they need to go," she said. "With the airport near here, I'm more worried about the birds flying into an engine like the one in New York," referring to the recent forced landing in the Hudson River believed to have been caused by birds flying into the airplane's engines.
Since the meeting, progress has been reported, according to City Clerk Carol Poole. Residents haven't seen the buzzards in the past few days - likely because Miller has been firing blank shots near the water tower, so as not to injure them or the tower but in hopes of scaring them away.
Eady said Monday that he gives Miller one week to get rid of them before he starts taking care of the birds himself.
Michelle Floyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.