It was like a scene from a Hitchcock movie: hundreds of migrating birds invaded a house in Torrance before diving into the fireplace – and leading residents to a hotel.
Stunning footage from the April 21 invasion captured the moment the cloud of birds plunged into the vent.
“It’s so hard to explain. If you don’t see it with your own eyes, you’ll never believe it, ”Kerri, who lives at the home with her husband and child, told KTLA. She asked that her last name not be used.
Other videos showed the birds, later identified as Vaux swifts, hanging from the ceilings and beating against the windows of the house. They had invaded every room.
“We lost the count after 800,” Kerri said.
The local sheriff’s station put the family in touch with county animal control officials, who advised them to leave the doors open, she said. But the birds have not moved.
The family spent the night in a hotel while a family member tried to get the birds out of the house, sometimes tearing them one by one from the furniture and blinds. Kerri said almost all surfaces were covered with bird droppings.
Sgt. Steven Velasquez, of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in Carson, said on Friday he had not heard of any other property owners in the Torrance area having suffered anything like the invasion.
But other Californian families have experienced similar situations. In Santa Barbara County, the Montecito Fire Department responded to a call on Sunday about a thousand small birds trapped in the chimney of a local house, officials said.
Firefighters worked with Santa Barbara County Animal Services to create a chute system to “get birds out of the chimney and release them through the back doors of the house,” they said in a post on Instagram next to the video of birds in the fireplace.
Although recent bird invasions seem alarming, experts have said its typical behavior for Vaux Swifts, which migrate through Los Angeles twice a year.
“That’s exactly what the Swifts do,” said Travis Longcore, president of the Los Angeles Audubon Society. “It is weekly, at the exact time, that these birds arrive.”
In fact, swifts travel through the region with such regularity that a network of bird watchers follows them as they move between Central America and the Pacific Northwest, he said. declared. Historically, birds roost in hollow trees, but have made their way to chimneys as more of these trees are cut down. For many years they favored a fireplace in downtown LA
And since swifts are a protected species, the people of Torrance did “just the right thing” when they got out of the house without harming the birds, Longcore said.
“As completely boring and scary as it would be for this family, there is something really special about this phenomenon,” he added. “This is something that we should wish for as a city, because it connects us to our place in the world, it connects us to our neighbors and to nature to the south and north.”
Longcore and Dr Guthrum Purdin, a veterinarian at the California Wildlife Center in Malibu, said the recent incidents were a reminder that people should take an extra measure of safety by installing screens on their chimneys. In addition to birds, animals like squirrels and raccoons can come the same way, Purdin said, and can be confused if they enter the house.
“Unfortunately, many animals, once in a chimney, cannot get out of it,” he said. “The best thing a homeowner or resident can do is have a hat on the fireplace. This allows the smoke to come out, but does not allow the animals to enter. “
Torrance resident Kerri told KTLA she was “okay with the birds” but said she never wanted any of her own.