Although it's known as "the dumping zone," many who work in nearby office buildings put their fears of pigeon guano aside to enjoy a smoke on the benches on the south side of the Toronto Reference Library. But for the past few weeks, lollers have had more than pigeons messing up their peaceful moments - namely, the ear-shattering screeches of predatory hawks and falcons emitted by a device being used by the library to keep the pesky pigeons away.
The Super BirdXpeller, as it's called, was installed on the Asquith Road side of the library a few weeks back.
But although library PR spokesperson Linda Mackenzie says making the exterior "as welcoming as possible to people" is a priority, the BirdXpeller seems to be driving them away instead.
Bell employee Peter Gerwauk, who works across the street, says he can hear the wails from his office on the fifth floor at the back of the building.
"The first time I heard it I thought it was someone torturing a bird," he says. "It's a sound you can't get used to."
But it seems the pigeons have. A flock of them swarm out from the library's overhang, whizzing by lounging Kevin Mooney in a mad flurry while I'm there inspecting the situation.
Mooney, who's been coming to the library regularly since 1953, says the birds don't seem to be intimidated. Even when the BirdXPeller goes off, he says, the pigeons don't budge. "But it drives the people away."
At BirdXPeller's Pensacola, Florida, offices, spokesperson Aaron Ramirez admits that "sometimes [the device] doesn't get the job done," but he adds by way of explanation that pigeons are one of the more challenging adversaries to deal with. It's probably no help that a few well-intentioned folks still feed the darn things every morning.
To make the gadget more effective, Ramirez says, the "familiar environment" of the pigeons - nests and excrement - should be cleaned up .
Seems the folks at the Reference Library have missed that part. A quick look around at all the bird doo reveals that there are few "safe" seats.
Nature may be taking care of things on its own, though.
According to Doug Jure, head of a condominium corporation around the corner, two predatory hawks have recently taken up residence in nearby Rosedale Valley Ravine and often swoop in for a meal.
As for the BirdXPeller, Mackenzie acknowledges that the birds seem to be getting used to it but says the library will "try a couple of other things" before giving up on it.