A segull sits on Seal Beach Pier, enjoying the perfect day.
California Beaches — Go to any beach–Santa Monica, Pismo Beach, Half Moon Bay, Bodega Bay, San Diego–and you’re going to see tons of birds. Pelicans, egrets, seagulls, herons, terns, willets, sandpipers, and even the unappreciated pigeons that live along the 1000 or more miles of California shores, are fun to watch, but sometimes they fly directly overhead. And with each graceful swoop, we humans may fear the poop.
Trying to photograph California’s pier structures such as restaurants can be a key part of your visit, but then you notice that like icing on a cake, a pier restaurant’s roof or the lifeguard lookout tower is dripping with white bird poop. Worse yet, is when you hear the splat and you become the next victim of the bird doo-doo! It happens to nearly everyone, unless they spend their time dodging the bird “bullets”.
Do you ever wonder what’s in that white gooey stuff? And how do you get it off your clothing ? Here’s the skinny on bird poop:
First, birds don’t urinate like other animals. Their poop is the main thing they release as waste. Birds’ kidneys extract nitrogenous wastes from the bloodstream, but instead of excreting it as urea dissolved in urine as we do, they excrete it in the form of uric acid. Uric acid has a very low solubility in water, so it emerges as a white paste. This material, as well as the output of the intestines, emerges from the bird’s cloaca. The cloaca is a multi-purpose hole for birds: their wastes come out of it, they have sex by putting their cloacas together, and females lay eggs out of it.
So how do we get the bird poop off our clothes without staining them? In three easy steps you’ll be like new.
- Step 1 - Clean off any poop on your clothing with a knife, spoon, napkin or something that softly lifts or scrapes it off. Make sure you scrape it off from out to in, to ensure that you don’t spread the stain any more.
- Step 2 - Flush the stain out in cold water. Scrub at it with a cloth while you are doing so.
- Step 3 - If the stain persists, treat the stain with hydrogen peroxide to remove any lasting residue. Hydrogen peroxide or some other bleach that is safe on the fabric in a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution that is most often used for first aid usually works. Be sure to test a hidden area for colorfastness before treating the stain.
Now you can walk on any pier, knowing that those birds can’t ruin your perfect day. Seeing them will only make it better as you take a picture and appreciate their amazingly functional bodies. Anything they throw your way will be a walk in the park, or a stroll on the beach, so to speak.