Where there is a will, there is a way. It seems as though the birds are getting more than their share of attention in this Clifton, Bristol neighborhood in the UK. When residents moved into their home, little did they realize that they would ultimately be duking it out over parking rights with the neighborhood birds in their own yard. The feisty feathered friends had no problem settling in on any branch they found amenable, as birds are wont to do. Unfortunately, the residents of the property that included those trees found that they were being left behind in the undeclared race for the best parking spot.
Parking under the trees did not seem like such an issue, until they found themselves having to clean off their vehicles to salvage the paint each time they went to use them. The residents tried every trick in the book, even attaching wooden birds-of-prey to the branches to discourage the birds from sitting over their cars, but the birds weren’t having any of it. As the situation continued to deteriorate, with no solution in sight but repeated doses of auto shampoo, the property owners finally resorted to upping the stakes: they installed bird spikes on two of the trees that overhang the parking area.
This story aptly illustrates one of the conundrums of modern civilization’s inevitable juxtaposition to wildlife. To some, it is human encroachment. To others, it is to be expected. Looking at both sides of the story, any observer can decide that each has its merits. From the residents’ point of view, they expect to be able to park anywhere they want or need to on their own property. From the birds’ point of view, the trees are where they sleep, rest, digest their food, and take shelter from predators — and they have been doing it in the trees since time immemorial.
From the point of view of environmentalist Jennifer Garrett, it was enough to motivate the following Tweet: “Our war on wildlife: now birds are not allowed in trees…pigeon spikes spotted in Clifton, Bristol above a car park. Has anyone seen this before? How is it allowed?!” Neighbors within the community who chose to remain anonymous are aware of both sides of the story. One said: “The spikes are solely to protect the cars, there is no other reason. There is a big problem with bird droppings around here. They can really make a mess of cars, and for some reason the birds do seem to congregate around this area.”
A spokesperson for the Bristol City Counsel told the Guardian that the spikes had already been up for several years. The spikes, also referred to as “shark spikes” and “anti-roosting spikes,” are installed on structures, not usually on trees, to deter birds from congregating there. The Counsel was well aware of the issue of the Clifton spikes, though it may not be able to do anything, since the trees are on private property. Meanwhile, the question seems to be how far humans will go toward pushing other creatures out of the way in their attempts to claim more space for themselves. Those asking it also wonder what life would be like without wildlife. Yet, with all the trees available, it is a mystery why those particular trees are such an attraction…for both parties.