Why is a chickadee pooping on my car’s side mirror every day?
May 22, 2021 11:39 PM   Subscribe

Help me, ornithologists of MetaFilter! A black-capped chickadee has decided my car’s passenger side mirror is a great place to poop. Then it spreads the poop, rendering the mirror useless and the car door revolting! Why, and how can I get it to go do something else instead?

This started about a month ago, but I didn’t know the culprit until I caught it in the act this morning.

Relevant facts: this may be the same chickadee nesting in a birdhouse sort of near where I park. I also park close to a suet feeder and some hanging pine cones with peanut butter and birdseed. Chickadees have nested in that birdhouse for years and bird snacks have been in the same place. I have put the car through a car wash twice, and the pooper just comes back.

I have a cat and a child and really don’t need another creature’s poop to manage! What’s the deal with this behavior, and how can I make it stop?
posted by centrifugal to Science & Nature (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't know what that is, but I see one regularly when I walk the dog in the morning, flapping around against the mirror of a prius. Sometimes I also see it on an accord, but it seems to prefer the prius. I've shooed it away, but it comes back. It bangs into the mirror, over and over again. And the frame of the door and the mirror are definitely poopy. I wonder if it's going to hurt itself (though not a flight speed or anything, just kind of flaps at it). I haven't seen it lately, so it's probably seasonal. But it did go on for at least a month or two.

I thought maybe putting the mirror in would help, but it does not. Maybe just leaving a towel on top of it, so that the bird doesn't see itself in the mirror?
posted by typetive at 11:51 PM on May 22, 2021 [2 favorites]

That is totally amazing, centrifugal!

I wouldn’t be surprised if you've observed a new wrinkle in bird behavior, and I’d be kind of surprised if you haven’t.

I think it’s covering your mirror so it won’t be triggered by its own reflection into the kind of wasteful and potentially self-destructive territorial behavior typetive describes — which comes pretty damn close to recognizing itself in a mirror and is clever as all getout!

Put a ziploc with a paper towel in it over the mirror; using ziplocs like that to keep ice from forming has become a bit of a meme lately for some reason.
posted by jamjam at 1:09 AM on May 23, 2021 [5 favorites]

This page on how to stop birds pecking at windows - nicely illustrated with a picture of a bird attacking a wing mirror - may offer some ideas.
posted by rongorongo at 1:23 AM on May 23, 2021 [2 favorites]

If you cover one mirror will it go around to the one on the other side? If you cover both mirrors will it use the windshield instead? If you attach a small mirror to a nearby tree will it prefer that one?

Get a whole car cover. On Amazon they're less than 100 bucks.
posted by mareli at 3:50 AM on May 23, 2021

This is very common behavior. The poop is incidental to getting enthralled with the mirror. When I have this problem, parking the car the other way (ie rotated 180°) usually works, bc the mirror won't be catching the same light at the same time of day.

Something to consider before trying more complicated things.
posted by SaltySalticid at 4:54 AM on May 23, 2021 [14 favorites]

Do your car's side mirrors flip in? Here in Philadelphia people often flip their side mirrors in as a matter of course when they park, to avoid having them hit by other cars driving by (since the roads are often quite narrow here). If you can, maybe just make a habit of flipping your mirrors in when you get out of the car.

I've seen certain individual birds direct aggressive behavior towards their own reflections in car side mirrors before, and this sounds like it's probably a variant of that. Probably as the breeding season passes and the birds get a little less territorial, this chickadee will stop feeling the need to cover its own reflection with poop.
posted by biogeo at 9:47 AM on May 23, 2021

If flipping your mirror and parking the other way doesn’t work, this might be a job for a fake owl on your car. If you go that route, you might get some karma bonus points by waiting till the brood fledges out of its current nesting spot.
posted by maniabug at 11:29 AM on May 23, 2021

Fake QwQL 'til chickeepoo breaks her dirrtybirrd habit.
posted by maggieb at 3:23 PM on May 23, 2021

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