‘We lost count after 800’: Migrating birds overrun California home

National

TORRANCE, Calif. (KTLA) — A California family is warning others after hundreds of birds poured into their home last week, leaving them feeling as though they were living out a horror movie.

The avian invasion began April 21 and lasted a few days, according to Kerri, the woman who lives in the Torrance home with her husband and child. She asked that Nexstar’s KTLA withhold her last name.

Kerri said the family came home from dinner to find the flock swarming around inside after swooping down their chimney, practically taking a scene out of Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “The Birds.”

“It’s so hard to explain. If you don’t see it with your own eyes, you’d never believe it,” Kerri said.

Video she shared shows the pulsating flock circling above the family’s chimney before many begin swooping down inside. Another clip shot later shows them flapping up against a window inside the home.

“We lost count after 800,” Kerri said.

She said the Carson sheriff’s station put her family in contact with county animal control officials, who said to simply leave their doors open. But the birds weren’t going anywhere.

“They acted like they wanted to get out, but they wasn’t going nowhere,” said Patrick Belleville, a relative who came over to help. “They were just flying around, just everywhere, every room in the house, every bathroom.”

Belleville said he put his hood and mask on to protect himself from the onslaught.

“They were just beaming off my head,” he said.

Surrounded by hundreds of birds and feeling helpless, Kerri, her husband and their baby stayed in a hotel overnight while Belleville tried to evict the birds.

The birds did calm down and sleep in the house after a few hours — but they made themselves a bit too comfortable, Kerri said.

“The second night, I actually woke up to a bird flapping in my room. So basically just pull the covers over my head and started screaming,” she told KTLA.

In addition, the home became filled with bird droppings. “You couldn’t walk in any spot in the living room, the kitchen and the hallway without stepping on bird droppings,” Kerri said.

Up the coast in Montecito, just south of Santa Barbara, the local fire department said it responded to a home where 1,000 birds became trapped in a chimney Sunday night.

They’d hoped the flock would flee on its own overnight, but they returned Monday morning to find them still up against the fireplace grate. Animal officials worked throughout the day and eventually created a chute system to successfully funnel the birds through the home’s back door, firefighters said.

In that incident, KSBY in San Luis Obispo identified the birds as swifts.

In both Montecito and Torrance, the birds’ behavior appeared to align with that of the Vaux’s swift, which is known to roost in chimneys in groups.

The birds are believed to be passing through Southern California as they migrate north, looking for a new home.

John Honjiyo, whose bird control company Birdxpert serves Orange and Los Angeles counties, said he’s been busy lately with bird nuisance calls.

He advised residents in the area to close their chimney flue and make sure their spark resister at the top hasn’t rusted and opened.

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