Will anything stop birds from pooping in San Jose yard?

DEAR JOAN: I live in Willow Glen and have lots of large trees in my yard with lovely plants near by. The plants get covered, as do the walkways and umbrellas, with white droppings.

Yes, I have bird feeders and love the birds.

Are there different types of bird food and feeders to attract birds who don’t make such a mess? Other than hummingbirds?

Lynn, San Jose

DEAR LYNN: I’m afraid that with those trees and the welcoming space you’ve created, you’re going to attract birds, and they’re going to relieve themselves in your yard.

Your best option to reduce the mess is to reduce the number of visiting birds by cutting back on your feeders or rethinking your backyard organization.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but let’s look at poop for a minute. Birds have a system where everything that’s coming out of them — poop, pee, eggs — goes through a single tubular cavity called the cloaca and then out a vent. The white stuff you’re finding is a combination of urine and feces, and is more urine than not.

Birds have a rapid digestive system and no bladder, which means things get moving fairly quickly. Smaller birds have to eliminate more often than larger birds, but the bigger birds make bigger splats. You could try feeding only the larger birds, with peanuts and corn, but you might also attract birds and other animals that you aren’t keen on. And the small birds would still be hanging around.

Birds evacuate their bowels whenever they need to, but they most often do it just before taking flight, which means feeding areas also turn into impromptu bathrooms. By moving the feeders away from your patio, umbrella, trees and plants, you’ll reduce, but not eliminate, the amount of droppings they leave in those areas.

I’m not sure this will help, but studies have shown that red cars receive more than their share of bird deposits, while green cars go mostly unblemished. If you have the option, you might consider getting a green umbrella and patio furniture …

And just a reminder that we’ve got a serious outbreak of salmonella among songbirds, so it would be a good idea to bring the feeders in until April, which will give you some time to consider your plan.

DEAR JOAN: I have another creature to add to the list of possibilities for the dark brown furry catlike mammal recently seen in a San Jose backyard.

I was in the Delta fishing, (when) a dark, chocolate brown mammal with a bushy tail appeared. I looked at my brother-in-law and said “What the heck was that?”

He didn’t know, and after searching the internet, we found it was an exact match for a mink. In my 60 years of fishing and exploring the Delta, it’s the only one I’ve seen.

Ed Lewis, Livermore

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