Update – After a couple of weeks with the pool cover on (mostly), the birds have vacated the tree.  Seems they really only wanted a toilet after all.

tears up*


We interrupt your regularly scheduled blogging to bring you a ranty message from Disgruntled Pool Owners of Missouri vs. The European Starling!

Normally, I like birds.  Flamingos, roseate spoonbills, eagles, doves, even pelicans have their charm.  Well, maybe not; if you’re sitting on the beach when a flock of pelicans flies over, you might want to have an umbrella.  But not starlings.

Spoonbill at the Tucson, AZ zoo. Lovely bird. Yes you are. (Photo by Elizabeth West)

In 1890, in New York City, someone who wanted to have all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays released a bunch of starlings, among other birds, in Central Park.  I hate him and want to desecrate his grave.

Remember the government stimulus checks everyone got a few years ago?  I called them Dubya checks.  With mine, I purchased several DVD sets of Looney Tunes and a 12×3-foot backyard pool.  I don’t regret the DVDs in the least, but the pool is starting to get on my nerves.

First of all, whatever genius built this Fifties tract neighborhood made the backyards (mine, anyway) from fill, with a thin layer of topsoil over it.  And the entire yard slants toward the house.  The soil is disgustingly fertile and so far, everything I’ve planted grows like a maniac.  The weeds do too, unfortunately.

Where to put the pool?  I couldn’t put it on my patio, because it would be in the sun the entire day.  I’d tried that already with a smaller, inflatable pool and it just wasn’t an ideal location.  I don’t like hot pool water, or sunburns.

My neighbor to the west has a beautiful, tall linden tree in her yard, whose shadow cools the far south end of my yard during the afternoon.  A perfect spot.  A few leaves were no big deal.  I attempted to dig out a large flat circle and level the yard a bit, to put the pool down.  No dice.  With all the rocks, I just couldn’t do that effectively.  So the pool leans a bit.  No biggie.  I can deal.  The water stays level, after all.

I have no outside outlet, so I have to run the pump off an extension cord.  Also no biggie.  I would just do that once a week and clean it with the net the rest of the time.  Linden trees drop a ton of teeny tiny seed things in addition to leaves, but they aren’t difficult to scoop out before I settle into my floaty paradise.  Even bugs aren’t a problem.  They mostly stay on top and come right out with the leaves.

For two summers, I enjoyed floating in the shady coolness in my inflatable chair, a can of Arizona Green Tea stuck in the drink holder, or attempting to swim a little (the water only comes up to my thighs).  I anticipated just such a relaxing time this year, and as soon as the weather warmed, up went the pool.

And then, they came.  The starlings.

They like water.  I knew this, but I didn’t know why.  Now I do.  They use my sparkling watery paradise as a toilet.  They perch on the edge and blast their white, black and purple bombs right into my lovely, lovely pool.

Evil poop machine from the bowels of Hell.

Image: Simon Howden /

I’ve swum in lakes, oceans, creeks and ponds.  You expect a bit of poo in there.  After all, living creatures use these bodies of water as their homes.  But pools should not have poo in them.   They should be pristine.  They aren’t natural.  They’re artificial constructs of chlorinated perfection, and bird poo is not welcome.

And if you have guests, it’s embarrassing.

These birds roost in the mulberry tree next to the pool.  Unfortunately, it’s not in my yard, and I can’t cut it down.  So I did the next best thing; I bought a cover.  That’ll help, right?


Missouri. Is. WINDY.   It starts in October and doesn’t let up until July, when the weather turns to hot, humid hell.  Gasping, sweaty people flock to the city pools and their backyard oases, praying for a breeze that never comes.  And the wind flutters the tree limbs, blows the linden flotsam across the grass and flips the pool cover right off.  So everything on it, linden seeds, leaves, bugs, bird poo, runs right off and into the water.

I give up.  Seriously.  There is no way I can work all day and come home and deal with this disgusting mess.  Stop using my pool as a toilet, birds.  I’m going to Walmart and buying a BB gun.  Gonna shoot into the tree and scare the little bastards away.  Gonna buy some shiny Fourth of July streamers and hang them in the tree and freak their little bird minds.   I don’t feel one bit sorry for them.  I’d hire a bird removal company, but I can only pay them in cookies right now.

If you have any suggestions or a bird story of your own, please feel free to share in the comments.  PLEASE.  I’m taking applications for bird hitmen.  I’m paying in chocolate chip and molasses drops this week.

13 thoughts on “Grrrr!!!

  1. Hey, you went to Drury! Do you still live in the area? That’s where I was born & raised & we go back every Christmas. Saw your comment at Anne’s, headed over, and zeroed in on Missouri. :D

    Always fun to run across another Show Me State-er.

  2. Ok, that’s hilarious. Great post.

    My suggestion.. put up a sign next to the pool – “Bird Restroom – Please enjoy” They’ll never come near it again.

  3. Dear Ladies and Gentleman,
    today I’ve brought you this excellent example explaining excitedly unexpected extensive implications of excrement in the exterior ;) haha sorry couldn’t help that.
    Of course, I see this whole “nuisance bird” story from a (half-) biologist’s point of view and don’t want to imagine the damage that is done to the ecosystem by such a foolish behaviour (releasing new bird species). However intellectual or rather pseudo-intellectual the intention might have been, well at least there was “Shakespeare” mentioned somewhere, such far-ranging are the consequences.
    The introduction of neo-zoons (new animals: means animal species that are new to this area) is not only a nuisance to humans, but also a threat to the complicated interactions in a specific ecosystem. Predator-prey-relationships can totally get in disorder and put an increased pressure of competition on the native species (native to a certain area). Mostly these “new” species replace /displace the native species which leads us sooner or later to a loss of diversity of species (globally).

  4. Here sth. to consider:
    1) Even though the global problem isn’t solved at least you might be happy with fixing the cover more properly with heavy rocks lying on it or with tent pegs.
    2) Send us some of your starlings, for in Europe the starling is an endangered species, and in the US a nuisance bird. We want what you don’t need. So no shooting, just catching and selling and shipping and everyone’s happy.
    3) Buy a cover for the birds ;) When wrapped in tinfoil or cellophane they can hardly contaminate your “holy water”.

  5. 4) Have someone build a top (like a roof just smaller) that you can put up when it is “swimming time” and you put down when it is “pooping time” 5) Connect with the universe via Joga or a guru and understand the deeper sense of the pooping birds, that might have been send to you to learn sth about patience or the stupidity of man.
    Namaste… the sock

  6. I have a bird story to share but this one is kinda sad.

    One evening during my teenage years, my mother brought home a small bird in a cardboard box. She had found it on the ground of a parking garage on her way home from work. The bird had one of its wings damaged and had lost the ability to fly. She took pity on the poor creature and decided to keep it until it was nursed back to health.

    So for several weeks….maybe even months, the bird lived in our garage in that cardboard box. My mother fed it every day and it gradually grew back its strength and its wing feathers. We had been debating where to release the bird back into the wild when it had fully healed. We finally decided to deliver him back to the same location where it was found…in the parking garage.

    The box was opened, the bird flew up to the ceiling and all went to plan…..except for one strange thing. There were other birds in the garage and as soon as ours tried to enter their group, they all flew over and attacked the bird like a gang of bullies beating up on a small kid.

    Fearing for its life again, we tried to get the bird back in the box so it could be released someplace safer. But it wasn’t cooperating. After several minutes of taking mean-spirited hits from its peers, the bird finally found a spot of sanctuary and seemed content there. We left the garage that afternoon feeling proud that we had saved an animal’s life but worried about how safe it actually was.

    About a week later, my father spotted a group of birds that was the same species as the one we rescued. I cannot be sure but I wonder still to this day if one of them was our former pet returning home one last time to bid us farewell.

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