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Do birds target black cars?

Birds seem to have an uncanny ability to find the cleanest cars and leave their droppings all over them. This is especially frustrating for owners of black vehicles, who often lament that birds seem to target their cars specifically. But is there any truth to this common complaint? Let’s take a closer look at the evidence.

Why Do Birds Poop on Cars?

Birds poop on cars for a few reasons:

  • Opportunistic feeding – Birds like elevated perches to scan for food, and will often forage while perched. A car roof provides a convenient vantage point.
  • Territorial marking – Male birds may leave droppings on metallic surfaces as a way to mark their territory and signal to other birds.
  • Lack of inhibition – Birds don’t share humans’ taboo around defecating in public/private spaces. A car is fair game.
  • Heat seeking – Car hoods and roofs may retain more warmth in the sun, attracting birds looking for a warm place to perch.

So in most cases, it’s not personal – birds aren’t vindictively targeting car owners. Though the habits may be frustrating, birds are just being birds.

Are Black Cars More Prone to Bird Droppings?

Many car owners ardently believe birds preferentially target black cars when relieving themselves. But what does the scientific evidence have to say?

There has been little formal research directly investigating whether birds favor black cars over other colors. But a few factors suggest black cars may be more vulnerable:

Higher Visibility

Black cars stand out starkly against light colored pavements and backgrounds. This high visibility makes them easy for birds to spot from the air. Birds likely find black cars sooner than more camouflaged light cars.

Heat Absorption

Darker colors like black absorb more heat from sunlight. One study found the interiors of black cars were up to 25 degrees hotter than white cars on sunny days. This warmth is attractive to birds seeking places to rest and preen.

Contrasting Colors

White bird droppings strongly contrast against black car paint. The visibility likely reinforces the behavior, since birds learn to associate the conspicuous white splashes with their perching. Light cars with similarly colored droppings would offer less visual reinforcement.

So while minimal research exists, these factors suggest black cars may be more prone to bird bombs than lighter colored vehicles. Let’s look at some anecdotal evidence from car owners.

Anecdotal Experiences of Car Owners

While scientific evidence is lacking, many black car owners are convinced from experience that birds target their vehicles. Some first-hand accounts:

Within a week of buying my black Honda Civic, it was splattered. Now I wash it almost everyday. My neighbor’s silver car is pristine.

I hand washed my black BMW 3 times over a long weekend. Came out Monday morning to new polka dots on the hood. This doesn’t happen to my girlfriend’s white car.

Birds have destroyed the paint job on my black sports car. No other cars on my block seem to have this issue. The birds definitely seek it out!

These owners perceive a clear discrepancy between the droppings on their black paint and lighter cars nearby. While anecdotal, their unanimous experiences suggest black does attract avian vandals.

Scientific Studies on Bird Vision and Color

While minimal research addresses bird bombing of cars, studies on avian vision and color preferences can provide clues. Let’s look at some findings:

Birds Can See Color

Many birds see color, including important car colonizers like pigeons, crows, and seagulls. Pigeons have excellent color vision, distinguishing hues similarly to humans. Several studies confirm birds use color when selecting foods and mates. This indicates they likely incorporate color when selecting perch locations too.

Birds Prefer Contrast

Avian vision relies more heavily on contrast than human sight. Birds discern silhouettes and boundaries better than subtle variations in hue. Black cars’ stark contrast against light pavements and backgrounds may make them pop out more to birds. Research confirms birds prefer to perch on high contrast elevated objects.

Pattern Recognition

Birds readily learn patterns. Studies show certain species can recognize complex shapes, categorize paintings by artist, and even distinguish Monet from Picasso. This ability likely lets birds associate white droppings on black cars with desirable perching spots, and reinforce the correlation.

Study Findings
Pigeons can distinguish Monet and Picasso paintings after training Pigeons have excellent visual discrimination and pattern recognition abilities
Chickadees can classify paintings by style and artist Birds apply categorization skills to visual information like paintings
Crows preferentially place walnuts on high contrast surfaces Contrast helps birds identify optimal food caching locations

So avian vision science indicates birds do factor in color, contrast, and patterns when interacting with their environment. This supports the notion they may target contrasting black cars when scanning for perches.

How to Protect Your Car from Birds

If you suspect local birds have it out for your black car, there are some effective deterrents to try:

Regular Washing

Frequently removing droppings and keeping the paint clean disrupts the visual patterns birds seek. It also removes residual smell cues.


Keep your car covered when parked. Cloth or fitted car covers hide the paint color and make the surface less appealing.

Reflective Deterrents

Strips of reflective tape or Streamers near common perches can startle birds and make them avoid landing.

Repellent Gels

Clear non-toxic gels applied to surfaces create a tacky surface birds dislike perching on. Reapply after washing.

Fake Predators

Plastic owls, snakes and hawk silhouettes can frighten territorial birds away from regular roosts. But birds learn they are fake, so move them around.

With some effort, you can convince local birds your black car is not their garbage can. While birds don’t maliciously target car owners, their habits can feel downright personal. Understanding avian behavior and deterrents can help you reclaim your ride from the flying vandals.


While the science is inconclusive, many black car owners firmly believe birds target their vehicles. Studies on avian vision and habits offer plausible explanations for why darker cars may attract more droppings. Anecdotal experiences back up the phenomenon too. With knowledge of bird behavior and some strategic deterrents, black car owners can reduce unwanted paint decorations from determined birds. Going forward, more controlled research directly comparing bird bombing rates across car colors could confirm if birds really have it out for black cars. For now, frustrated black car owners have some compelling evidence and remedies on their side.