The Birds are Back

We have a problem.

Well, “we” don’t have a problem, I have a problem. But since I take you all along for the ride during any problems (and injuries!) that have arisen in my six plus years of travel, it is only fair that you come along with me during this continued crisis.

For newer readers, the problem is as follows: I’ve been unceremoniously dumped upon by birds big and small a grand total of 12 times since I quit my job to travel in 2008. The post I linked to in the prior sentence goes into great detail about the scene of each crap, including that time I was shat on twice in a day In Myanmar, with witnesses to prove it. And the time a few weeks later in Yangon where I was casually telling newfound friends about The Bird Problem when a pigeon decided to illustrate by letting loose on my just-washed hair. The group of us collapsed at the side of the road, holding our stomachs as we laughed hysterically.

The pigeons also got me in Mongolia and in the Philippines, and a giant frigate bird went after me in the Galapagos.  No one wants to be crapped on by a frigate bird. No one.

As I’ve noted previously, I have a small head.  So as surface areas go, I really shouldn’t be the focus. There are usually larger people with bigger heads walking near me. But they often remain unscathed.

My nemesis: the pigeon.
My nemesis: the pigeon

Because birds were insufficient, a bat also shat on me during a press trip to the Dominican Republic in 2010. The best part was that I had just finished telling the others on the press trip that I had a “bird problem” and immediately following the conclusion of my story, a bat decided to teach me a lesson. Duly alarmed that this would mark the beginning of being terrorized by mammals too, I warily watched all winged creatures out of the corner of my eye.

My friends (or should I say my “friends”) decided to start a ridiculously named “Poop Slots calendar”, each betting on two-week periods of my life based on when I’d next get hit. My friend Phil was particularly incensed when he went “all-in” during my week in Essaouira, fully expecting me to get nailed in the town’s densely seagulled harbour.

Alas. I did not. And I haven’t since the last crap on Canada Day 2011, in Ottawa. No payments under the Poop Slots, to the disappointment of those who bet on the calendar. No move by the birds until October 2011 in England when I was unceremoniously dive-bombed in the face by a pigeon in the Cotswolds.

Pigeon welt
Pigeon welt.

The welt healed quickly, of course, but my pride did not. Nor did I forget the incredulity on the faces of those walking nearby as they watched a pigeon fly straight into my forehead. The birds, I worried, had upped their game.

There is an old Far Side comic called “How birds see the world” and from 2008 until 2012, I continuously ducked when birds flew nearby.

But after that Cotswolds incident in 2011, I was birdcrap free for over a year. The birds steered clear. The message, whatever it was they wanted me to absorb, was received.

Until this weekend in Bath, when my brother, his girlfriend Sarah, and my friend Honza — all Poop Slots betters, I should add — were standing next to me as a pigeon crapped on my arm and my hair while I wandered around the Abbey.

Bath! (And bird) Bath! (No bird) Yup, it finally happened again.

For the readers who have been around since The Bird Problem began: the birds are back. I hope it is a small and temporary hiccup in my last few years of not being terrorized by birds. The updated the birdcrap counter.

13 birds

1 bat

1 dive-bomb by a pigeon

1 dive-bomb by a seagull

Thus concludes my short post.  I’m in England until later this week, when I fly to New York and then to San Francisco to speak at Book Passage about digital platforms for writers and about social media. The Book Passage event is on my birthday so there will be no birthday mountain on that day, but I plan to make up for it later in the fall.

I have been light on the updates lately, but have spent July in Berlin and in England and I look forward to sharing pieces from those places and from Greece.

Thank you to all of you who wrote about the Saigon street food guide. The outpouring of enthusiasm and subsequent photos of the foods I recommended has been wonderful. Many people asked why I would share my favourite spots. These are, of course, only a few of the places I loved to frequent. They are predominantly in the centre of town, and as the food is a big part of what makes the city special to me, I wanted it to be available to you as well. Bon appetit! For those heading there in the fall, yes, I will be re-starting the food walks for a few months.

More soon!


30 thoughts on “The Birds are Back”

  1. That is ridiculously unlucky (or I guess lucky? depending on whether you believe that saying). I personally think it’s flattering when a bird chooses to poop on me. Out of all the places and people it could have chosen, it decided to single out me and go for it.

  2. that’s terrible! maybe you’ll just smell really nice and that’s why they’re attracted to you… Can’t wait to read your posts from Europe. Hopefully you’ll stay poo free for the rest of it

  3. Oooo, sorry but you just had me laughing oud loud…. You see I think my guy has your problem…:) he’s been shat on quite a few times as well. Recently while eating a burger in a food market. O and that one time he got hit by a herron!! Do you know how much comes out of a big bird compared to a pigeon? ;) I seem to be more in the miss area, as they tend to just miss me everytime. God, I hope it’s not a practising run and they’re getting better in aiming!!

  4. Holy shit – 13 times?! (haha – pun) I’ve only been pooped on once by a bird – those birds must have it out for you!

  5. What time is your event? There’s always Mt. Tam, and really, you can’t get more classic Bay area than that. It might not be the most challenging mountain, but it is beautiful, peaceful, moderately challenging, and best of all, about a 20-30 minute drive from downtown San Francisco. Let me know if you’d like an early morning guide! :-)

  6. 13 times?? I was hit once in Rome. It was awful as it was all over my hair – horrible smell… Also we had just started the day.
    I was attacked by a bat once in Colombia. Noone ever believes that because they think that bats are shy and clever and would never fly against your head ever. Well, I riding a scooter and they have never heard of helmets on that island. But that really hurt. It was probably not as bad as your bird attack though. :)

  7. Crumbs alive! I thought it was only me! I completely feel your pain. I was crapped on by a bat going into the Verona Opera House, I was bitten by a swan in Stratford-Upon-Avon and I got four pigeons stuck in my ponytail in London. Ug. Don’t even get me started on the seagulls… Awesome post. Very very funny :)

  8. Oh man, this had me laughing. I was sitting here thinking that I haven’t been crapped on since childhood, but then you reminded me that it happened to me in San Diego last year when I was home briefly visiting my family. My sister just about lost it laughing.

    Whatever, it’s supposed to be good luck anyways, isn’t it?

  9. This is too funny! I never did get why it’s suppose to be lucky. Maybe it’s your friends trying to relieve the embarassment. While I’ve only been poop’d on by a bird once, I did have an encounter with a bat. Riding home on my motorcycle from watching The Dark Knight, I hit a bat directly on the front face of my helmet. I took this as a sign to go fight crime and to this day, moonlight as a super hero….at least in my mind.

  10. Hello, Jodi! My name is Michael Werneburg, like you, I’ve been crapped on by birds 13-14 times. And like you, I’ve begun documenting the amusing and irritating adventure. Someone visiting my site left a link to yours, so I thought I’d drop by and wish you a keen eye on the skies!

  11. Oh my, that is a lot. I have been pooped on by birds 3 times in my life, which I thought was a lot. This takes the cake. Supposed to be good luck, right?

  12. The thought of travelling came to my mind, so I went on Twitter and found myself looking at the BBC Travel website. From there I came across your story, which eventually took me to your website. I love your blog, and guess what, I hate olives…

  13. Honestly, some birds tend to be pretty annoying. And what I hate is when you get pooped by those things while flying in the air. My best suggestion, bring an umbrella always. It really helps you a lot since you can use it to drive those things away or as a shield for an upcoming poop bomb from the sky. LOL. Thanks for sharing this!

  14. Travel mishaps make for the best travel stories! It’s a gift that just keeps on giving. I’d be extremely disappointed if my entire trip went by smoothly… In 4.5 years of travel, I was only pooped once, but the poop gods decided to give it to me all at once – bird diarrhea. From the top of my head, down my shirt, jeans, camera bag and camera. Thank you Buenos Aires, Argentina, I’ll never forget our special bond. =]

  15. You’re so funny, Jodi! I guess I can feel relieved if I walk in the same city as you, since all the birds will go towards you! I also agree that 13 times can’t be just casuality (:

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