Post Classifieds

Resident finds avian surprise in apartment

By Adam Troxtell
On January 21, 2011

Upon returning to her Prairie Crossing apartment after winter break, junior early childhood education major Jessica John was surprised to find a dead bird in her shower.

This is not the first time John has dealt with birds in her apartment. She reported this problem to Residential Life just before the 2010 fall semester ended after finding bird droppings in her closet. John said at the time she did not know what the white substance all over her education class materials was, but her residential assistant (RA) did.

"I noticed there was white stuff all over my games," John said. "I thought it might be paint dripping, never thought of birds. I asked my RA if she could come look at this during inspection and she said, ‘Those are bird droppings,' because they've had them before."

Assistant Director of Facilities Kathy McGrath was previously the hall director for Prairie Crossing, and said problems with birds in the apartments arose once the washers and dryers were taken from each residence.

"Each apartment at one time, before [the university] bought it, had washers and dryers," she said. "After we took it over, we removed all the washers and dryers, and this is when we began having issues with birds getting in the vents that are outside the building. Though the vents have a cover on it, somehow or another, the birds have figured out how to get up underneath the vent cover."

Before leaving for the winter break, John said she closed the door to the closet, her bathroom, her room and the kitchen, just in case another bird came through. When she came back, maintenance had left a note on her door confirming they had fixed the problem.

"It looks fixed right now because they took a piece of board and nailed it to the wall so there's no way the birds can come out," John said.

When she walked in to her apartment on Jan. 10, John said she could immediately tell someone or something had been active there over the break.

"Everything was crooked, some stuff had fallen off my walls, but I hadn't noticed any droppings," she said. "I thought I'd just clean it later and decided to take a shower. Well, going to take a shower I almost stepped on a huge dead bird. Shampoo, everything was knocked off, so I figured the bird was out and flying around my bathroom. When I started looking around, I noticed droppings everywhere."

John said bird droppings were all over her apartment: on her couch, in her room and even in the kitchen. She said while she is glad maintenance made the necessary repairs to ensure no more birds come in, she does want to know how this particular bird slipped by all the doors and the workers.

"One, if the bird got out, wouldn't the maintenance people see it?" she said. "I know for a fact before I left I double-checked to make sure that every door was closed. I want to ask if they came in and took a break somehow and left the door open, or maybe the RAs did a final inspection. I'm not really blaming them, but I want to know how the bird got out, because that means every door from the closet to the kitchen had to be open. That's three doors that had to be open for it to get around anywhere."

This is a question McGrath said she also wanted answered.

She explained the bird could have come in during the time between when the work order was submitted, Dec. 16, and the time it was fixed, Jan. 3. She said the last day of work for Facilities was Dec. 23.

As for the mess maintenance workers could have found upon arriving at John's apartment, McGrath said custodial staff usually look past anything other than their assigned work upon entering a private residence.

"Speaking on behalf of the maintenance people - and I have done this too – when I go into apartments, I don't look around," she said. "I have a work order, I go straight to the area of where the work order needs to be repaired. I repair it, leave a note, and then I leave. We have apartments in which that situation would've been normal. So, they've grown accustomed to overlooking that and focusing on what they're there to repair."

McGrath said facilities has decided situations like this that require cleaning up bird droppings and removing them from apartments are their responsibility, and will enter the residencies to clean them in the future.

"In this past week, we have been making a decision on how we are going to handle this," she said. "We are responsible; we will go in and clean up this stuff. That's where we are right now. We had determined in the past that we would plug the vents as this takes place and we hear about the situation due to the cost."

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