Agriculture chiefs, who last week said it was OK for people worried by wild birds to kill them, have offered an alternative to those unwilling to go that far: sticky gel.
The non-toxic, transparent gel makes surfaces uncomfortable for birds to land on and would be a good way to keep them away from buildings where large flocks are fuelling bird flu fears, according to an Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation spokesman.
'It is not so strong to actually trap the bird and prevent it from flying away. It is a kind of bird repellent,' the spokesman said.
The latest advice came after the department said last week it had no objections to members of the public killing wild birds like pigeons and house crows provided they did not use a slingshot.
The department then backtracked on the advice, saying it was a misunderstanding.
The latest solution to deter troublesome birds has also been a source of misunderstanding.
Yau Tsim Wong district councillor Austen Ng Po-shan said department officials told her about the gel yesterday after she complained about wild pigeons near the Prosperous Garden housing estate in Yau Ma Tei.
The estate had assigned a security guard to chase birds away but the birds just gathered on the walls and pipes outside the estate instead, Ms Ng said.
'The official said the department did not assign staff to chase birds away but suggested that residents could use this glue on the walls,' she said.
The residents, it appeared, were as confused by the department's latest suggestion as they were by its earlier advice. 'They asked, 'If the birds have avian flu, why would we want to stick them to our buildings?' Ms Ng said.
But having suggested using the gel, the department spokesman declined to say where it could be bought, to avoid endorsing or advertising commercial products.
An internet search revealed it is not cheap. One site had a case of 12 cartridges of Bird-X brand repellent gel - applied with a glue gun - for $737 plus shipping and handling.
Hong Kong Bird Watching Society vice-chairman Michael Kilburn said the government was causing public panic by 'putting out poor messages and poor justifications for what they are doing'.