Red Cars and Bird Poop

Halfords Group is the UK’s largest retailer of motoring and cycling products and services, providing maintenance and repairs in the United Kingdom. According to research from Halfords, bright red cars attract more bird droppings than vehicles of any other color. Green cars were found to suffer least, followed by silver, while white vehicles escaped more often than black in the analysis of 1,140 cars in five cities over two consecutive days. The study found 18 per cent of red cars were marked with droppings, blue 14 per cent, black 11 per cent, white 7 per cent, grey/silver 3 per cent, and green 1 per cent.

Theories abound as to why birds are attracted to pooping on some cars more than others. A Lexus driver figured that newly polished cars get subjected to this ignominy because birds see a reflection of themselves. A Ford Focus owner said the darker the color the cleared the reflection and the more violent the reaction. An Alfa Romeo owner said it depends where you park and a Mercedes driver said blue was the worst as it reminded birds of water. Others thought birds saw red as a danger or that birds were attracted to colors similar to their own plumage; for example, seaside resorts seagulls went for white cars, while in cities pigeons go for grey. The British Trust for Ornithology was more circumspect on the role of color. “We do know that birds can be attracted to certain colors during display but droppings on cars is probably more to do with where you park; if you park where birds roost, then you are going to get more droppings on your vehicle,”.

Leading car polish experts Autoglym says the damage to vehicle paintwork is from paint lacquer softening and expanding to form an uneven mold around the dropping which produces a dull patch. Grainier textures from seed eating birds produced the most blemishes, so pigeons are worse for motorists than seagulls.

What is bird poop? Mammals excrete nitrogenous wastes mostly in the form of urea, soluble in water, making urine. Birds excrete these wastes in the form of uric acid which is insoluble in water so excreting minimizes water loss. (Most birds do not have a urinary bladder as carrying the extra weight of water would hinder flight.) Uric acid forms a white sticky paste. Feces come out of the same opening, the cloaca, and form the dark part of the dropping.

If, or more likely when, you find bird poop on your car, here is a short guide on how to remove it to avoid damage.

1. Remove at the earliest opportunity.

2. A moist cloth should be used to gently lift the deposit from the vehicle surface.

3. If the deposit is dry or doesn’t lift easily, place a moist cloth over it for ten minutes to soften the deposit.

4. Dispose of any cloth used to remove bird droppings and carefully wash your hands.

Here are some other safe ways to clean your car – from a Lexus dealer.

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