The Hamptons Police Department’s Animal Control force was called into action over the weekend as police began receiving reports of bird recalcitrance at an area wildlife refuge. The refuge, which is part of the National Park Service, remained open during the government shutdown, but there were no personnel on site to handle visitor complaints. When visitors were unable to receive redress from park employees, they contacted the Hamptons Police Department to complain about unresponsive birds.
“According to calls we received, in particular the chickadees in the refuge seemed to be engaging in a protest over the shutdown,” Hamptons Police spokesman Larry Hirsch says. “The chickadees are pretty much the sole attraction of the place, and when they stop responding, people get pretty upset.”
The chickadees are well known for eating black sunflower seeds out of people’s palms.
“It’s what they do, and it’s very cute,” Hirsch says. “But I guess they don’t like the working conditions—accumulating trash, lack of oversight—that resulted from the shutdown, and so they stopped playing along.”
According to visitors, young and old alike held out hands full of the choicest seed, and not a single chickadee took the slightest interest.
Hampton Police Animal Control officers attempted to reason with the birds, but, as local police have no jurisdiction over birdlife in the sanctuary, they were unable to mandate compliance.
“At this point, we’re just recommending people stay away,” Hirsch says. “Without the chickadees, it’s not worth the trip.”