The Official Birdcrap Counter: Documenting the Crap

Before jumping into my Burma coverage, I need to share a disturbing problem I’ve had on my round-the-world trip: birds love to shit on me. Apparently, I have an invisible target on my head, viewable only to winged creatures. Yes, when spelunking through caves bats have crapped on me (and on others). Sure, in my pre-RTW days a bird has occasionally defecated on a new sweater. But in the last 2 years of gallivanting, there has been an alarmingly sharp, exponential rise in craps. To be fair (to me – not to the birds), I’m outside quite a lot more than in my lawyering days. Regardless, I have yet to cross paths with another person who has been crapped on so frequently or so vociferously:

The Official Birdcrap Counter is at 9 since April 1, 2008.

What does it all mean? To the mirth of those sitting nearby in internet cafes, I have Googled whether most cultures believe that bird shit is lucky. Per Wikipedia, if one or more birds defecated on you or your property in Russia, it is good luck and might bring you riches. There are a slew of Yahoo! Answers threads directly on topic, with typically asinine responses. And of course, in each country where a bird has crapped on me, the locals are customarily thrilled on my behalf, and have often asked me to go with them to buy a lottery ticket. No, I’ve never won.

Given the pattern of Birdcrap Counting that has woven itself into my travels, I figured it was high time that I documented the crap for my readers. And so, without further ado: behold the craps that have fallen upon my person in the last 22 months.

Craps 1 & 2: Paracas, Peru.

When winding my way up the coast of Peru, a visit to Paracas made perfect sense. Known as Peru’s Galapagos, the Islas Ballestas and the Paracas National Park are home to cormorants, penguins, condors, pelicans and flamingos, as well as dolphins, sea lions, turtles, sharks and more. Unfortunately for me, the sheer volume of birds meant that I was statistically doomed to be shat upon. Which I was, twice. And every other tourist in the boat got out unscathed.

birdcrap in Peru: paracas fun
Given the amount of birds here I didn’t do TOO badly!

Crap 3: The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

En route to the lovely Isla Española in the Galapagos Islands, a trail of giant frigate birds followed our boat in its wake, weaving to and fro above us. Of course, this meant that one of them took a shit. And of course, it landed on me. Given the size of these birds, let’s just say I needed more than 1 shower to clean it off.

Crap 4: Gandantegchinlen Monastery, Ulan-Bator, Mongolia

The Crap: Pigeons are considered good luck in Mongolia, and feeding them is encouraged. As a result, there are plenty of pigeons to go around, which becomes abundantly clear when visiting a monastery, aka a pigeon-feeding zone. Crap #4 had me spluttering with rage when a pigeon let one loose on my head and then landed next to me and looked up, expecting food. He did not get any.

birdcrap number 4: mongolia
Mongolia’s monasteries: pigeon central

Crap 5: Ko Phang-an, Thailand

A month of yoga on a tropical island should translate into a state of total zen. And while I was calmer than I’ve ever been, Crap #5 didn’t make me smile. There might have been a small temper tantrum on Haad Salad beach.Yeah, well I’m watching you too, birdie.

Crap 6: El Nido, The Philippines

Spending several months in El Nido gifted me some of the happiest memories of my life – and Crap #6. Nestled into the Bacuit Bay and surrounded by huge karst cliffs, the town is ground zero of a multitude of bird species, one of which took a liking to my small head. The unfortunate event occurred while I was scaling one of the limestone cliffs, so by the time I returned to town I stunk like it was nobody’s business.

Craps 7 & 8. Nyangshwe, Inle Lake, Myanmar

Another twofer, courtesy of Burmese birds. The first crap occurred while I was standing outside of the beautiful Mingalar Inn, my home in Nyangshwe for the week. I had, of course, just showered and washed my hair. While talking to the owner about my day, a magpie let a huge one rip and it landed squarely on my skull. Trying to explain the Birdcrap Counter to the hotel was a huge fail, but at least Honza and Sergey, two new traveling friends, had a good laugh at my expense. That night, as the 3 of us were drinking wine, another bird crapped on my head (and on my bag – it was a spread-out crap). On the bright side: I had witnesses for my 2nd twofer of the Official Birdcrap Counter.

Crap 9: Yangon, Myanmar

In the midst of recounting the travails of my head’s attractiveness to flying animals, a pigeon decided to punctuate the tale by shitting on me in Yangon. The fact that I was actually talking about the Official BirdCrap Counter to a Canadian couple whilst the crap occurred was extraordinary. Being Burma, a crowd gathered within seconds as the 3 of us doubled over with laughter at the side of a busy street, wondering what had us so out-of-control.


birdcrap number 8
The culprit: Yangon, Myanmar.

I’m currently in Bangkok and now cringe when I see birds flying above me. What does all this mean? I have a small head to begin with, so if we are talking pure surface area, I am baffled.

Why birds, why?

I’m curious to see if broadcasting the ‘bird problem’ makes it go away. Next stop is Angkor Wat in Cambodia and I’ve been told there are plenty of birds there. I’ll keep you all posted.


16 thoughts on “The Official Birdcrap Counter: Documenting the Crap”

  1. I think I've witnessed the last 3 craps on twitter and I can only feel for ya Jodi.

    I guess if this is the worst thing to have happen to you while travelling then your not doing to badly. But if the crap counter reaches double digits…

  2. Wow, I mean, Wow. The fact that you were talking about it when #9 hit… I just don't know what to say! Great post, I nearly fell off the bed reading it!!

    Good luck in Cambodia, please let me know if I need to get a bigger hat ;-)

  3. I'm proud to day bird-crap-free since 1998! I was nailed twice in Turkey and considered lucky, but the weirdest was on the way to school (I was teaching). I got totally nailed square on top of my head by a pigeon. I stopped dead in my tracks and did the cringing exploration of scalp to confirm. First it hits you then you say it. My two companions laughed (of course) and I wasn't sure even how to clean it off. But right there at my feet, right in the middle of the street, was a folded hand towel like it was fresh from the laundry. Weird as hell. I picked it up and wiped out my hair as best I could, went to school finished the job at the sink, and then came back out into the hall. Met another teacher and told him the story. "And right there at my feet was this towel!" I flipped it out to show him and his eyes went wide. I looked at the towel and a dove was embroidered on it. Is that kismet??


  4. I was about 8 when I got nailed by some flying creature right on my cheek (that's on the face). I howled like I was just struck by lightning. Nana told me then that it was good luck and to stop crying. I did and I must admit I've had really good luck my whole life, and I'm now 55. Nana always new best :)
    Ebbers xx
    P.S. And never got shit on again.

  5. Wow, just wow. I don't even know what to say. I have never even had a bird come close to crapping on me.

    I think you should just count at as some sort of symbolic relationship you have with the birds. Maybe you were a bird-catcher in a past life?

  6. Hey Jodi!

    This is hilarious. I thought I had it bad, but I only get shat on every 7 years. The last time happened in Austin, TX last year so I've got another 6 years until the next incident. :)


  7. This made me laugh, especially how you can perfectly describe each and every incident. It seems like you're developing a phobia…

    My last near miss happened in Prague when I met a friend with a baby for coffee. Within an hour, we had to move tables three times because birds were pooping all around us. It almost got on our cheesecake (heaven forbid!). I felt like I was a moving target. Fortunately, I've been pretty lucky through South America…hope I didn't jinx myself there.

  8. Thanks everyone! And thanks for sharing your own birdcrap extravaganzas.

    I am currently in Siem Reap, and believe it or not my seatmate on the bus here? Works for a bird conservation park just outside Siem Reap. I told him we could not be friends. Obviously.

    I will update the OBC to the extent that any new birds take a liking to my wee head.


  9. Oh Jodi, to be crapped on in Galapagos! How unfair, not to mention humiliating. I laughed so hard at this post, because a good friend has the same exact problem. It happens to her or her husband several times a year. It's NEVER happened to me.

    One time we were walking side by side, and came close to a tree, she walked around, while I ducked under. A bird relieved himself on my head. I knew it – that crap was meant for her, somehow the bird mixed us up. :-D

  10. Omg, this is the funniest post ever! I think you should seriously consider investing in an umbrella or something :) I’ve seen from another post that bats are in on the game now too. Although they don’t fly, I’d watch myself around ostriches if I were you…

  11. @Jeannie: my friend Melanie got crapped on by a bird in the Dominican and maintains it was a ‘rogue’ bird with bad aim and the crap was meant for me. She might be right!

    @Sunee: glad you enjoyed. Perhaps the subject matter isn’t the most profound, but I couldn’t let it go without documenting it as the craps piled up over the months. When the bat crapped on me, my friends suggested a ‘mammals who shat on me’ list since bats are not birds, but opening the door to THAT disaster wasn’t something I could do. We’ve just kept it as ‘flying things that shat on my person’ for safety’s sake. Thanks for reading!

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