"I tell people I'm the grackle police," says Mike Krone, a tech at Texas Bird Services. He works with Centro Ambassadors to keep downtown clean, safe and friendly.

Mike uses a combination of light and sounds to humanely disperse flocks of grackles nesting downtown. "It's sort of in the same category of herding cats," he jokes. Breaking up the flock prevents bird waste from accumulating in spots where it could be harmful to humans. Along with the Centro pressure washers, Mike helps maintain a clean downtown neighborhood.

Texas Bird Services Technician Mike Krone shines lights on trees to disturb bird nesting on Houston Street. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio 

How does one come into this often unnoticed line of work? Mike says this job has offered him the chance to be financially independent while he continues creating art. He had been working as an illustrator for many years when a friend offered him the job.

Mike was 65 then, living in Austin. He had always enjoyed San Antonio, but he only intended to work here for a few months. Five years later, he's still in the city. "It has a different culture mix too. I don't think there's any place like San Antonio," he explains.

Original artwork by Mike Krone. 

Working with the Centro team has been a positive experience for Mike, who says General Manager Mike Pacheco has been a responsive and encouraging person to speak with. "You've got a whole mish-mash of personalities [at Centro]," he says, "It's been great."

Moving to a new city without knowing anyone was daunting. But Mike proves that it's possible to embark on an adventure at any stage in life. "I discovered the symphony," he says, "I was greatly amazed and happy that San Antonio has the quality of symphony that we do."

Through the years, Mike has worked from production to illustration to advertising using his artistic talents. But it was only when he moved to San Antonio that he rediscovered an interest in music that had died out after adolescence. Mike was able to continue learning and growing. "It was a great discovery for me," he remarks.

Original artwork by Mike Krone. 

Mike has also been taking classes at the Southwest School of Art for the past few years, which gave him a connection to his new community.

Though it's no longer his profession, Mike continues to draw. He is freer now to pursue subjects that interest him. He says he keeps his art and job separate, but all the pursuits in his life seem to embody a uniquely "Mike" quality. "Maybe that's why I have this job," he quips, "It's different."

Texas Bird Services Tech Mike Krone taps branches on Houston Street to disrupt grackles from nesting. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio