Home News Birds peck mirrors and foul car doors

Birds peck mirrors and foul car doors


Hitchcock would have loved this. For the past two weeks, the Macfilos neighbourhood has been suffering a plague of vandalised car mirrors and lime-encrusted paintwork. It is a bird thing, you see.

Vehicles throughout the area have been under attack as amorous or belligerent tits (only the experts would know) have waged war on mirrors and doors.

I first noticed a great streak of birdlime (to use a convenient euphemism) down the offside door of my car. The obnoxious white streak stretched down, immediately under the side mirror. It happened again the next day, after I had cleaned up the offending mess.

The sinister significance of this phenomenon was not evident at the time.

Deep Plot

Then I saw similar deposits appearing on almost all the cars in the street. There was a deep plot here and no mistake. My hitherto charitable view of our “feathered friends” was rapidly losing focus:

Bird: A warm-blooded egg-laying vertebrate animal distinguished by the possession of featherS, wings, a beak and typically by being able to fly.

Quite. But the dictionary compilers missed out something else that birds are noted for….

One neighbour found a “large bird” of indeterminate ethnicity pecking at her car mirror in something of a frenzy. When his excitement reached a peak, the beast dropped an untidy streak of “lime” down the side of the car: Involuntary defecation. This was happening everywhere.

Our neighbour blamed a “large black bird” for the offence, but whether blackbird or magpie no one was really sure. David Attenborough would have known without a doubt.

Those of us with folding mirrors promptly folded them, but this offered no respite. The birds were clearly capable of pecking at an extreme angle and still managed to foul the paintwork.


Needs must when the devil drives, so the next experiment was to encase both mirrors in plastic shopping bags. That worked, we discovered. But the untidiness offended my nature.

Brabantia to the rescue, a perfect fit from the 3-litre bin liner. It makes the ideal accessory for your expensive motor car

Then I discovered that the 3-litre Brabantia bin liner is a perfect fit for most car mirrors. The bag even incorporates a handy drawstring to ensure complete bird proofing. Peace at last in the Macfilos neighbourhood.

What causes this phenomenon? Well, extemporary defecation is apparently all to do with sex (or “mating” as birds call it), territorial rights and the accumulated stress thereof.

I found that we are not alone in suffering such near-field lime bombardment. According to a report in The Telegraph, many areas of the country have been under attack and villagers nationwide have been forced to take urgent measures.

“Birdlime”, it appears, is only part of the problem. Drivers have even found their mirrors cracked as a result of over-enthusiastic peckerypokery. As a protective measure, some car owners have crafted fancy teacozy-style mirror covers. Most, however, have taken the easy route and resorted to the plastic supermarket bag.


As reported in The Telegraph, a Peter Exley of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds explained that it’s all down to hormones: “They get very territorial — if they see a reflection in a mirror they see it as an adversary.

“The bird says, ‘I’m going to see off that intruder in my area’ and then they (sic) get very agitated — so much so that they make an unfortunate mess.”

All very unfortunate, Mr Exley, but what about our cars? It costs a fortune to get them cleaned these days, not to mention all that inconvenience. We clearly need a Royal Society for the Protection of Cars, the RSPC. I supsect, though, it would not be seen as being very PC. Cars are fair game. Birds rule.

Marion Badcock, a West Sussex villager told the reporter that it all started about two years ago: “We’ve all had to make special covers in this part of the village near the ford.”

Mr Exley pointed out that mirror attacks are not good for the birds’ stress levels: “Most of these birds don’t pair for life and there’s a whole load of strategies for finding a mate.”

“If you’ve got cars parked near a river where grey wagtails are nesting, there’s only going to be one result.” Doom!

The Decisive Peck

Well, Mr Exley, I do live near a river and, no doubt, the pesky birds are indeed nesting — and attempting to mate — nearby. My stress levels, never mind the wagtails’, went through the roof last week. That is until Brabantia came to the rescue.

To illustrate the point, I grabbed a couple of snaps of bombed vehicles and, in contrast, my pristine, bag-protected car. It’s a case of covering up all your mirrors while these little chaps are on the mating flight.

To my regret, I was unable to get a shot of the vandalism in progress. I spent an hour lurking at a distance with a long lens, awaiting The Decisive Peck, but all to no avail. Towards the end of this session, I was in the pecking mood myself. My repressed thoughts would certainly have had me drummed out of the RSPB in deep doo-doo.


  1. Near Fagan Towers we have the same phenomenon every April and May with bird droppings all over the place. So far we have no confused birds trying to peck at themselves in the mirrors, but it helps that both of our cars have folding mirrors. Mrs F has put bird feeders around the back garden and thanks to the fact that our family cat died a couple of days after our return from Wetzlar last October they now have a free run of the back garden. Last year a lost racing pigeon was killed in our back garden and we believe that our late cat was the culprit. Magpies and the occasional hawk help to restore the ‘balance of nature’ a bit. A few weeks ago, while driving, I disturbed a hawk killing a pigeon at the nearest corner to our house. I parked my car and walked back, but, by then, the hawk had made off with the dead pigeon. We have also had magpies taking the entire egg content of blackbirds’ nests in our back garden.

    As regards ‘car abuse’, the worst I have ever seen were Keas in New Zealand. They would leave the birds of Chiswick in the halfpenny place. Not only are they very cheeky and would steal your lunch, they can strip a car of its windscreen wipers and rubber door surrounds in no time at all. You need to pray that no one ever gets the bright idea to introduce Keas into Kew Gardens or London Zoo.


  2. I am awaiting the follow up article where mike reveals he wrote this having spent a night in the cells. This was following his arrest for stalking the local neighbourhood camera in hand.


    I am now looking up and down our street for signs of similar stuff, but realised birds don’t really frequent our area courtesy of two resident sea gulls who are nesting nearby – they drive out everything foxes, pigeons the lot.

    • Didn’t think of that, but I did have the idea of sprinkling powdered Imodium on a few bits of bread and placing them strategically around the car. But then I’d probably be in trouble with the RSPB.

  3. The birds that defecate over my blue Suzuki on the flight path to their nest hanging over the neighbour’s garden raise an interesting issue of boundary and property rights. Whose nest is it – in human terms? It sways above the neighbour’s land, but the branch supporting it and the critical junction to this branch are over my parking space. Do I have the right to use a saw at this very accessible junction? Hmm………..

  4. Hmmm … In Peterborough we place / hang “decoy owls” inside car windows to deter vandalising birds. Google same for a good selection.

    • I tried this for pigeons who nested on one of the balconies of our 9th floor apartment in Doha. I made the image myself using Photoshop, but the pigeons it just ignored as did the Mynah birds which are common in the Gulf. I suppose an owl effigy is probably better than having an Alsatian on the back seat as it would be likely to cause more damage to the interior of the car than the birds might cause to the exterior.


  5. What a load of wimps! All that fuss for bit of bird pooh and a few narcisstic birds.
    You should try living here. A couple of weeks ago I found an Eastern Brown snake in the garbage bin storage cupboard. The Eastern Brown is one of the most venomous snakes in the world and they are aggressive. I regularly find funnel web spiders in my garage. Funnel web bites used to be fatal but now they have an anti-venom so provided you administer it quickly you’re OK. And last week we found jumping jack ants in the back corner of our property. Despite their jolly name jumping jack ants are very nasty. They jump, they chase you and their bite is excruciatingly painful and will kill people who have allergic reactions to them. The recommendation if you have an allergic reaction or a cardiac condition is to carry an Epipen( andrenalin injector) if you are in country near them.
    It must be worse for Wayne Gerlach who lives in a more “rugged” location. I am sure that he has all the above plus red bellied black snakes (also dangerous) and I know that he often has a python on his roof.
    We often have visits from flocks of screeching cockatoos-they can rip the pool solar water heating blanket on the roof to pieces in a few minutes.
    And the sunshine is wonderful.

    • You’re not selling the Oz life style to me. Liz hates creepy crawlies. However my eldest keeps non-venempus snakes, so most in the household are used to handling royal pythons and lizards.

      However you can keep your leaping ants and spiders. I will stick to the less sunny UK.

      • I agree Dave, although I don’t fancy fondling those “safe” snakes. The flora and fauna here in the UK is generally benign and you have to be very reckless to find anything that will harm you. Sunshine can be a curse in this respect. I lived for a time in Florida and creepy crawlers there, including fire ants, are a menace. Not to mention things that drop from trees and do unspeakable things to errant humans. No, I too will stick with mild and benign

    • Red bellied black snakes are a plus. The very venomous eastern brown snakes can’t coexist with them, probably instead preferring the seaside location of John’s house a few miles away.

      And the diamond back python has been seen a few times in the last couple of years. A beautiful creature, not afraid of humans to such an extent that my son tells me it must be an escaped or released pet. Advantage of that guy is that we never have rodents anywhere near the house.

      But the high point of the day today was that after coffee with John I spent an hour and a half on the ride-on mower. The open front nine looks divine, and the back nine up in the trees behind the house look pretty good too. And all the while on the mower I was being followed by a local escaped peacock. Impressive colouration. I’m just glad that he couldn’t read Michael’s article and get ideas!

      • While staying in Kruger Safari Park in South Africa about 8 years ago Mrs F had the bright idea that we might have dinner in our thatched hut one night. One of the chaps from the kitchen came to the door with the food and then I noticed one of his colleagues pointing a torch at a snake that was a few feet away from our door. Apparently it was a Night Adder which is is poisonous but, perhaps, not fatal for humans. The lad from the kitchen suggested that we block the crack under the door with towels, but then added that they had been known to come up through toilets (not sure if this was true). I warned Mrs F to be careful about using the facilities that night. In any event, when we got up at 4.30 am to go on our morning safari trek, the snake was gone. It was, probably, not nearly as dangerous as the hippopotamus that appeared in the river about 20 feet away from the back porch of our hut at lunchtime later that day. It was, we were told, an unusual event and staff from the kitchen and admin building came running down to see it. Looking at the size of the animal I could imagine it doing quite a bit of damage to a car. There’s another thing you don’t want, Mike, hippos in the Thames outside your back door.


        • Aside from the Black Widow spider in our garage and having a young man carried past us on a hiking trail near Torrey Pines golf course (San Diego) with a rattlesnake bite, southern California fauna has been fairly benign.

          I’ve heard that hippos are the #2 killer in Africa, something we considered overlooking the Mara at night, perhaps unnecessarily.

          I don’t think anywhere compares to the “Sunburned Country” for the variety and proximity of threatening creatures, though.

          I check my motorcycle helmet every morning for that lady spider…


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