Do Red Cars Get the Most Bird Poop?
Survey Shows Red Cars Get The Most Poop
A specialist UK auto-parts retailer, Halfords, wanted to see whether the color of a car affects how many times birds defecate onto a car’s bodywork. The large urban areas of Brighton, Bristol, Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow were chosen in order to get a good geographical spread across the UK. In total 1,140 cars were examined by researchers over two consecutive days in June 2012.
The results of the survey are shown below. The key findings were that 18% of the red cars had bird droppings on them after two days. The next most popular car color with the birds was blue with 14% of blue cars having bird poop on them. The least popular color (as far as the dive-bombing birds were concerned) was green, with only 1% of these cars being affected after two days.
Color of car paintwork
% of cars after 2 days with bird droppings
Has Halfords Really Proved That Red Cars Are Poop Magnets?
First I must declare an interest, I love red cars! My last car was red and the one before that was too. So I have personal experience of trying to clean off bird droppings from my car. The only reason my current car isn’t red is because there were none available at the right price when I bought it.
Like many other people I was convinced my red car attracted far more bird droppings than those of my neighbors. However, people who own white cars believe their cars are dive-bombed more often than mine. So does Halfords' study really prove that red cars are pooped on more often than other colors?
Red is an emotional color.
The color red enhances our physical reactions because it is seen as a danger cue.
It increases a person’s heartbeat and their breathing rate.— Andrew Elliot, University of Rochester, and Henk Aars, Utrecht University
Red Cars Attract the Most Bird Poop: True or False?
High Cost of Repairing Damaged Paintwork
Halfords concluded that damage caused by bird droppings to British motorists is around £57 million per year (US $89 million).
A media press release was issued and Halfords included advice about the importance of cleaning off bird droppings quickly. Cynics may be tempted to ask if the fact that Halfords sells appropriate cleaning materials was linked to their eagerness to spread the results of their research.
The Story Goes Viral
June 2012 must have been a slow news month for the international press as the story went viral. It was picked up and covered by news agencies across North America, Australasia, Europe and beyond.
Apart from being a light-hearted way of getting a marketing message across, the research was not conducted with any scientific rigor. A few people have pointed this out and said that no credence should be given to the results of this survey. However, they have been largely ignored and new stories continue to appear every week in both online and offline media claiming that red cars definitely attract more dive-bombing by birds then other colors.
Bird deposits contain a high amount of uric acid with a pH level somewhere between 3 and 4.5, which is quite acidic. Put simply, bird poop on a car can slowly eat your car out!
Uric acid is corrosive, and it quickly eats the wax coating or paint sealant and cuts through the paint.
For that reason, never let the poop stay too long on your car if you don’t want it to cost you a lot of pennies in the painting shop.— carfromjapan.com
The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO)
The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) says that in its view, where you park your car is of greater importance than the color of your car. For example, if you park your car under a tree in the evening beneath roosting birds, it is likely to result in your car having bird droppings on it by the morning.
The BTO has carried out its own research into the effect of bird droppings on cars. They discovered that pigeon droppings cause greater damage to car paintwork than those of seagulls do. This is due to the fact that pigeons are seed-eating birds. Their poop is grainier and rougher in texture than those of seagulls which are fish eaters. The excreta from seed eating birds therefore literally scratches your car paintwork. Even more reason to clean it off as quickly as possible.
Car Covered in Droppings .... and the Car is Blue!
Will you buy a red car next time?
What Color Car Will You Buy Next Time?
Whatever color car you choose, there will be some occasions when you find that birds have defecated on it. The key is to clean it off as soon as possible so that the ammonia in the droppings does not have time to damage your car’s paintwork.
The simplest way to remove bird poop is to first dampen the droppings with a water hose or bucket. Then using a sponge or towel, rub away the softened damp bird excrement. Do not be tempted to try to speed up the process by using a scouring pad. That way you will definitely mark your car’s paintwork.
How to Remove Bird Droppings From Car Paintwork
Perhaps Birds Are Not the Whole Story?
There is another theory about what actually causes the damage to car paint that is currently blamed by motorists on bird poop. According to car care products manufacturer AutoGlym of Letchworth, UK, it is the car owners themselves that are the real culprits. They say that cars which are waxed and polished are better protected against bird droppings.
AutoGlym researchers tried out a variety of different bird poop substitutes on car paint. They varied the acid content and also the grain to liquid ratio. They found that the softness of the paint (which can be affected by high sunshine temperatures) influenced how easy or difficult it was to remove the poop without causing long-term damage. They concluded that motorists need to take better care of their cars and clean and polish them on a regular basis.
It comes as no surprise to learn that AutoGlym makes the exact wax products that are required to achieve this fight-back against aerial hits. You should draw your own conclusions about the objectivity of this “research”.
How Can You Stop Birds From Pooping On Your Car?
If you have a covered parking space or garage, then use it. This is the best defense against low-flying bird poop. Otherwise, try to park away from trees and tall buildings that are used by birds as perches.
In urban areas you may have no choice about where to park, so regular cleaning and maintenance of your car will help limit the damage to your paintwork if you do score a direct hit.
Waxing and polishing your car provides a protective barrier against acidic bird excreta. The longer bird droppings are left on your car, the more damage they will cause. So check your car's paintwork regularly, and remove any poop as soon as you notice it.