How can I stop a bird from playing on my car and leaving its crap all over?
April 6, 2006 4:35 PM   Subscribe

How do I get a bird to stop sitting on my side mirrors and shitting all over my car?

I park my car outside the garage and a couple weeks ago, I suddenly noticed a veritable waterfall of bird droppings along both sides of both our cars. A few days ago, I was working in the garage and witnessed the culprit: it appears to be a robin (brown feathers, orange breast) that flies from our fence or lawn, up to perch on the side mirror. It looks at itself in the mirror and dances around on the perch for long periods of time, eventually leaving droppings all down the side of my car.

I've been washing my car every 4-5 days since this started because there is so much bird poop on the side mirrors it can be dangerous to drive (I can't see who is behind me and to the sides). Yesterday I got it washed totally clean only to find my car door completely covered in poop this morning, worse than it ever has been. It's getting really frustrating and old, so I'm wondering what to do about it.

Should I setup a harmless decoy mirror in my front yard somewhere that the bird can play with? Should I do something to scare the bird away? Should I give up and clean out the garage and park in there or park down the street somewhere?
posted by mathowie to Pets & Animals (31 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe cover the mirror with a plastic sac or something for a few days, until the bird forgets about it?
posted by Malor at 4:38 PM on April 6, 2006

Do your mirrors fold in? Most cars these days have mirrors that fold in flat against the car.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:47 PM on April 6, 2006

Response by poster: The mirrors only fold in part way. I tried that last night after washing my car and it didn't work.

I suppose I could try putting a sock over the mirrors.
posted by mathowie at 4:48 PM on April 6, 2006

b b gun?
posted by Thorzdad at 4:51 PM on April 6, 2006

My friend had this exact same problem. I suggested he cover his mirrors with plastic bags when he gets home.
posted by delmoi at 4:53 PM on April 6, 2006

If you wanted to go the quick and cruel route, leave a loaded mousetrap on the mirror
posted by blue_beetle at 4:54 PM on April 6, 2006

A car in my neighborhood had that problem. It turned out to be a crazy territorial male robin that spent half the day trying to scare off his reflection.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 4:57 PM on April 6, 2006


posted by RobotHero at 5:05 PM on April 6, 2006

This happened to me several years ago. I solved my problem by parking half a block further down the street.
The bird in question found a new car to occupy his time, and I stopped having to wash mine every other day.
posted by Eddie Mars at 5:33 PM on April 6, 2006

Battling against birds is all fun & games... until they bring their many, many friends to poop on all sides of your car. Clean the garage and park happily inside.
posted by sluggo at 5:35 PM on April 6, 2006

Found a pretty interesting site for a company called 'Bird-B-Gone' that looks to have a pretty comprehensive assortment of mechanical, chemical, electrical, and optical bird repellents.

Very few of them look like they'd cover your situation... but it's worth a look.

(or you could just go for an opulent level of James Bond type overkill and outfit your car with a "Bird Chase" Laser, Spike Strips, "Shock Track", Ultrasonic Sound Deterrent, "Bird Spider", Transparent, Bird-Repelling Gel, and Animatronic Scarecrow)
posted by cadastral at 5:42 PM on April 6, 2006

I'd put a bird-of-prey paper cutout on the radio antenna, if this were the 1970's, but I guess cars don't have external whip antennas anymore. Maybe on the inside of the window? It works for home/office windows, but not sure if it would do the trick here.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:55 PM on April 6, 2006

I suppose I could try putting a sock over the mirrors.
posted by mathowie at 4:48 PM PST on April 6

Yeah, you pretty much answered your own question. The bird isn't really interested in the mirror as any sort of perch: it's that sweet sweet reflection, so any opaque covering will cause him to forget about it after a day or two at most. A sock or plastic bag and a rubber band are all you need.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:03 PM on April 6, 2006

Cut a piece of cardboard so you can wedge it in and cover up the mirror. Or even a piece of paper stuck on the mirror with some "fun-tak" or tape and the written memo "I am not a different bird."
posted by user92371 at 6:07 PM on April 6, 2006

A fake owl will do it.
posted by glibhamdreck at 6:16 PM on April 6, 2006

This is America. Buy a gun and kill that sucker.
posted by Mars Saxman at 6:19 PM on April 6, 2006

"b b gun?"

"This is America. Buy a gun and kill that sucker."

Especially if you prefer dents and paint chips over bird-shit.

And good luck hitting a robin with a bb gun.
posted by mullacc at 6:31 PM on April 6, 2006

You just have to explain to the bird that it suffers from mirrored self-misidentification.

However, the robin may be incredulous.

In that case, yeah, you could cover your mirrors whenever you park. But as you suggest, it'd be easier to put a bigger, shinier mirror somewhere else.
posted by booksandlibretti at 6:51 PM on April 6, 2006

(mumble) years ago I worked for Tektronix at what was then known as the "Walker Road" facility. It was two buildings connected by a covered walkway which had a clear plastic wall running down one side, to protect people against the wind and the rain.

It also accumulated a rather large collection of dead birds which the facilities people had to collect and dispose of on a regular basis. The birds tried to swoop under the walkway and bashed their brains out against the clear plastic wall.

Tek ended up putting black decals that looked like hawks stooping on every other clear panel, and after that there were no more dead birds on the ground.

The visual perception system of most birds isn't that sophisticated; it doesn't take much to fool them. These decals were two dimensional and weren't in color, but they were good enough, especially from a distance. Pretty much anything that looks like a bird of prey will make smaller birds stay the hell away.

Glibhamdreck is right: buy something that looks like an owl and leave it standing on the front dashboard of your car when you're not in it. That robin won't come near your car. (But it does have to look at least somewhat realistic; we're not talking plush toy.)

Or a couple of copies of a picture of a hawk, 50-100% of life size, perched in the windows on both sides would probably work, too.

By the way, like as not this won't keep happening even if you do nothing. Right now it's the "competing for territory" time of the year for male birds. In a month or so they'll all be settled in and will have better things to do, like wooing females and collecting food for chicks.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 7:32 PM on April 6, 2006

Birds do not, apparently, like the smell of soil sulfur. Maybe if you applied some on the lawn near your car, or put some in pots strategically placed around your car, that might keep the bird away.
posted by Effigy2000 at 7:59 PM on April 6, 2006

This fake owl might even freak out humans.
posted by glibhamdreck at 8:25 PM on April 6, 2006

Sprinkle a lot of rice in the vicinity of your car.
Greedy robin gobbles it all up, rice expands in its tummy, ruptures its organs, and you throw it into the trash can.
Be sure to clean up the remaining rice, so as not to lure more pests.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:37 PM on April 6, 2006

And good luck hitting a robin with a bb gun.

It's only $400, it's a pneumatic rifle, and you won't miss.

That's an inelegant solution, however. I like the sock over the mirror fix.
posted by craniac at 9:13 PM on April 6, 2006

I had the same problem years ago. Socks did the trick. It's a territorial thing.
I've never had the problem since. Most birds don't find the reflection, I guess.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:44 PM on April 6, 2006

It's an annual event at our house. This has been going on for the last three weeks. The robins have been using the sideview mirrors as a perch while they work on a bush full of berries near the sidewalk. The berries are soft this time of the year and the robins are stripping them. It makes for a lot of seedy poop on our car doors.
posted by laptop_lizard at 10:00 PM on April 6, 2006

Things could be worse: you could live in wine country (an overview of general bird control techniques). Consider four and twenty redbirds baked in a pan:
Actually, Dick Erath of Erath Vineyards Winery in Dundee, Oregon once tried the kill-the-birds method. Years ago, Erath hired some local kids to shoot the birds. Erath said he "paid a bounty of 25 cents per robin and that ended my robin problem for a long time." He wound up with 300 dead robins that year. Ever creative, he developed a recipe for sautéed robin breast layered and baked with polenta, marinara sauce, and Parmesan cheese. He claimed the birds "Tasted like pigeon. They were all dark meat and mild."
Seriously, though, what about a car cover? No bird poop, dust, leaves, or sun-faded seats, plus your 4-wheeled perch stays cleaner longer.
posted by cenoxo at 10:40 PM on April 6, 2006

Response by poster: Holy crap, I do live in wine country and have been to that vineyard (which is nearby).
posted by mathowie at 8:05 AM on April 7, 2006

I had a terrible bird problem with zillions trying to nest in my eaves - it was getting like a Hitchcock movie - poop everywhere - cars, yard, porch - and a bloody racket every morning, no sweet little cheep cheeps. The darn things would swoop at your head when you went in and out the back door. An owl like the one glibhamdreck linked did the trick for the entire yard - now the birds are at the neighbors, heh. I have to move the owl around every week or so - from porch to roof to stoop - if I keep it in one place, the birds seem to catch on after awhile. But if I move it, I am bird free.
posted by madamjujujive at 5:19 PM on April 8, 2006

Heh. I knew, in community college, one of the kids that used to hunt the robbins for Erath. They also used to scare the crows off with shotgun blasts.
posted by SpecialK at 12:31 PM on May 22, 2006

If you are a good shot try a bb gun or pellet rifle. BB guns are not as accurate as pellet rifles so you may want to go the pellet rifle route. I had a starling problem and bought a pellet rifle to do the job. No more birdies bugging me! They weren't on my car though so I don't know if you could get a clean shot without hitting your car.
posted by srthomas21 at 10:12 AM on January 24, 2007

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