You may have heard of anti-homeless spikes – nubs of concrete installed on flat, sheltered services to deter homeless people from staying there – but it’s anti-bird spikes that are currently causing a furore in England. A photo posted on Twitter on December 18, 2017, shows metal spikes lining a tree’s branches in Bristol in an apparent effort to stop birds sitting on the branches.
Jennifer Garrett, a Bristol-based communications specialist and self-described "nature lover", posted a photo on Twitter on December 18, showing the glinting metal spikes attached all the way along a tree’s branches, writing, “Our war on wildlife: now birds are not allowed in trees…?!” The tweet racked up over 6,000 retweets and over 900 replies.
People were horrified at the measure. Some of the reactions are displayed below.
The Bristol Post reported that residents installed the anti-bird spikes in the photo on Twitter over a private car park in Clifton, Bristol, to stop birds from dropping guano onto the cars below.
"Pigeon spikes", as they are sometimes known, are a way of deterring birds from roosting. They are a common sight near shopping centres and other built-up public spaces – but less so on trees.
One resident, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Bristol Post that they had previously tried a decoy bird of prey to ward off birds but it didn’t work. “The spikes are solely to protect the cars [parked under the trees]. There is a big problem with bird droppings around here,” they said.
The Green councillor for Clifton, Paula O’Rourke, said that she would be taking the matter up with the council. “I’m aware that the landowner might be legally within their rights to do this to the trees as they seem to be on private land,” she said. “Whether allowed or not though, it looks awful and it’s a shame to see trees being literally made uninhabitable to birds – presumably for the sake of car parking. Sometimes it’s too easy to lose sight of the benefit that we all gain from trees and green spaces and from the presence of wildlife around us in the city.”
"Pigeons pooping on posh cars"
The anger against the spikes has taken on a different tone, after reports that the cars parked in the car park were Audis and BMWs. Clifton is one of the more affluent areas of the city, and many people on social media decried the “rich” owners with their “posh cars” and their cruelty towards birds.
A spoof Twitter account called ‘The Clifton Pigeon’ has been set up, posting scathing and profanity-laden tweets in criticism of the spikes. It follows the example of another famous pigeon Twitter account, Jon Pigeon. Jon the pigeon has already commented on the furore.
Anti-bird spikes also caused a controversy in September, in the town of Stevenage in Hertfordshire in the south of England. The borough council installed the spikes to prevent bird guano fouling the recently refurbished shopping area.