A Scientist Explained How I Can Sorta Blame China For The Huge Amount Of Bird Shit On My Cars

Illustration for article titled A Scientist Explained How I Can Sorta Blame China For The Huge Amount Of Bird Shit On My Cars
Screenshot: Wikimedia Commons, Audubon, Jason Torchinsky

Over the past two or three weeks, my home and all of the precious, precious cars parked by it have been the victims of a massive, possibly coordinated attack. The attack is a sort of carpet bombing, a raging shitstorm of literal shit, ejected (possibly with malice) from the quivering cloacae of many birds, leaving my humble fleet of shitboxes Jackson Pollock’d with thousands of spatter-strikes of dark, dark bird wastes.


I’m sick of it, and sick of being a victim, so I decided to get answers, once and for all. Even if it meant finding an ornithologist.

I’m sure there are many readers out there dealing with a similar situation — I mean, I hope so, because otherwise these birds have it in for me specifically, and I’m afraid that would be a war I’m not ready to fight.


I was actually awestruck at the scale of the shitsplosion I encountered when the first attack occurred. My whole property was dappled with the avian spatter, to the point that a skylight looked as if a pack of dogs attempted to eat a cauldron of chili on it.

Screenshot: Wikimedia Commons, Audubon

The coverage was comprehensive and surprisingly dense. This wasn’t just a few pockets of bird shit, it was an even, overall rain, forming a noise pattern like the static on an old CRT television screen, only one that’s formed by the background radiation of the cosmos, not the contents of some feathered jerk’s bowels.

In my head, I imagined a flock of buzzards or maybe some ostriches with hang gliders lazily circling my home just after devouring the entire contents of the dumpster behind Taco Bell, loudly and sloppily spraying out their filth. I turned out to be very, very wrong.


The one upside in all of this is that, finally, I get to contact an ornithologist for work, which has been a longtime dream. The ornithologist I contacted was John A. Gerwin, the Ornithology Research Curator at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, and he knew exactly what was going on.

He described the voracious car shit-dapplings as a

“...perfect storm of a bird (many rather), a plant and our vehicles.”

As far as the birds responsible for this, there are two suspects: cedar waxwings and American robins. Gerwin explained that these are the two species that gather in large flocks during fall and winter, and they consume mostly fruit in these seasons.


Gerwin then goes on to say

“That would be fine except now we have all these non-native Privet bushes in urban areas. And whenever I see images like yours and I can track down the source it is always Chinese privet.”


Aha! Now we’re getting somewhere! A focus for my wrath! Waxwings and/or robins plus Chinese privets!

Photo: Jason Torchinsky

Gerwin continued laying out his evidence:

“...these bushes can grow to 20 feet and host large clumps of berries that are a deep purple. And thus your splotches match. They also match what we recently saw in our neighborhood, just up the street.

In that case, the offending birds were Cedar Waxwing. Then a few weeks later, some Chinese Privet bushes about 10 houses away were host to a large mix of Robins and Waxwings. Houses/driveways on both sides have vehicles parked – I just looked the other way.

For the past week, I’ve been seeing huge numbers of robins at sunset, as they fly overhead to wherever they are roosting. In fact this evening a neighbor emailed me to ask about “all these birds I’m seeing at sunset. 100’s and 100’s….”. Again, these are robins. But waxwings are still around (they just don’t go flying around at sunset the way robins do).

Anyway my guess is your avian friends are waxwings but could be robins, or a mix. The fruit, I’m 98% certain is Chinese Privet.”


While I am certainly not happy with the local waxwings (or maybe robins), I’m really pissed at those Chinese privets, because they were never invited here. They’re an invasive species, crowding out all of the local flora, all because someone in the 1800s thought they looked pretty. Now they’re all over the American Southeast, where my cars are, and the result is I have to wash a Beetle and Pao and Changli (and a Tiguan, but it’s black so the pictures aren’t as dramatic) in the cold, cold weather.

What I’m saying is that I’m the real victim here.

Photo: Jason Torchinsky

I know it’s not really China’s fault, but I figured people would be more likely to click if I blamed it on the whole nation of China. But I am not happy with these privets, or the gluttonous birds that eat and gorge on their gross little berries.

So, how much longer am I going to have to endure this nightmare? Luckily, Gerwin had an answer for that, too:

“The other good news is that by mid March, those two species begin to depart from our area. And the waxwings are nomads and move around. They may hang around a few days and then the fruit is gone and so are they.”


He also mentioned that perching locations are key here; like people, the birds don’t really like to shit while they fly, so they prefer to perch on branches and do their foul business. My yard — really, my whole neighborhood — is very tree-covered, so unless I park a mile away or magically summon an instant garage, I’m kinda’ boned.

Maybe I should just scour the neighborhood for these Chinese privet plants, tear them out by the roots and build a bonfire in the middle of the street. If they’re on a neighbor’s property, things may get complicated, but I’m sure once I scream about my cars enough, they’ll sympathize and assist me in tearing up their landscaping.


So, the takeaway here for anyone else suffering barrages of robin or waxwing-digested Chinese privet berries is that we shouldn’t have to deal with it much longer, and if you can avoid parking under trees, do so. And tear out your Chinese privets as soon as you can to prevent this in the future.

God help us all.


Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus, 2020 Changli EV • Not-so-running: 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!: https://rb.gy/udnqhh)



If the privets are gone won’t they just eat something else? Does the birdnerd suggest that they have cleaner more organized bowel movements after consuming the native flora?