Nashville Symphony and an onslaught of migratory birds

Posted on: April 13, 2022

“In the summer of 2020, a massive flock of purple martins set up camp in the trees surrounding the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, in the heart of downtown Nashville,” writes Margaret Renkl in Monday’s (4/11) New York Times. “The flock was a glorious sight—150,000 birds descending from the sky night after night—but the problems they created for the … symphony were extensive. Imagine the weight of so many birds on a few dozen trees, the stench of so many bird droppings on a public plaza…. A fundraising campaign by the Tennessee Wildlife Federation and The Nature Conservancy in Tennessee helped pay the costs of pressure washing the limestone building…. [Then the birds] returned in even greater numbers, causing an even bigger mess and even more damage…. The [Nashville Symphony] has spent more than $100,000 cleaning up after the purple martins, a figure that far surpasses the donations raised for that purpose by conservation groups. If the birds come back this year, with the Schermerhorn fully open again, their presence will be catastrophic…. This conflict is a perfect example of how complex it can be to make urban settings welcoming for wildlife, even when all invested parties are proceeding with good will.”