The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum was the first to weather the nuisance when the birds settled in trees overlooking the site. Firefighters used high-pressure hoses to get the martins to leave. Instead, the birds migrated to an auto Bank of Oklahoma branch across the street on the corner of N. Robinson Avenue and N.W. Fourth Street.
What greeted customers in the mornings at that location was a blanket of bird droppings. Not wanting to harm the birds, BOK went back and forth trying to decide whether to oust them from their nightly roost or put up with the mess — and expense — of letting them stay. After a few unsuccessful evenings of trying to get the martins to move, bank officials opted for the latter.
“Bank of Oklahoma is allowing the birds to roost at our auto-bank location through the rest of their migration,” said Andrea Myers, media relations manager for BOK. “We understand that shouldn’t be much longer, perhaps through September. In the meantime, we will simply continue cleaning up their mess each morning.”
That message has thrilled bird enthusiasts, both locally and nationally.
“It’s really heartening the bank will let them stay,” said Juliette Hulen, a local “birder” who helped spearhead efforts to keep the roosting purple martins safe. “I recognize the difficult line the businesses and nonprofits have had to take between protecting their property and respecting this beautiful phenomenon of nature.”
Even more kudos came from Julie Zickefoose, a national author and blogger who fueled interest in the Oklahoma City roost among her followers.
“It was almost too much to hope that BOK would permit the martin roost to stay on its property,” Zickefoose said.
“Seeing the photos of guano made our collective hearts sink. It’s not that we as martin appreciators don’t grasp what a mess that many birds can make. We do.
"So it’s all the more laudable the BOK chose the kind and gentle route of shouldering the cleanup for the few weeks the martins need shelter on their property. This is a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to the BOK."
In the meantime, the birds are continuing their nightly roosting downtown. The martins typically begin the ritual around 8:30 p.m. and settle in the trees by 9:15 p.m.