Bin Chickens! Ew!

A couple of weeks ago, I saw the following event on Facebook, which a few people I know in Sydney had marked that they would attend.

International Glare At Ibises Day

The only event details really provided were “Everyone gather at your local park and glare and show general distaste towards ibises”

I have yet to see an ibis in a US city, so I’m sure some foreigners would be baffled as to why this would be an event on facebook. Complete with photos by lots of Australian contributors, of ibises that had been glared at that day (because pics or it didn’t happen). But if you were to visit Sydney, however, you’d understand.

International Glare At Ibises Day

Like other cities, we have pigeons. Like many coastal cities, we have seagulls. But we also have these guys.

"Bin Chickens" - Australian White Ibis

And they’re, uh, not popular. In case nicknames like Bin Chickens, Trash Vultures and Tip Turkeys didn’t offer any clues.

The feature I’d say most people despise about them would be…..the smell. You can be walking somewhere and smell them before you see them. Nose-hair burning stuff! And the last thing you want is for them to set up a nest anywhere near a place where you have to spend time. They seem to favor palm trees).

Their long beaks, suited to looking for mussels and crustaceans in wetlands, also turn out to be perfect for drinking bin juice and rummaging through garbage.

And like their city competitors, pigeons and seagulls, bin chickens are adept at harassing people for food. Below are photos taken of my younger brother years ago after making the terrible mistake of giving one of them a fry.

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Why are these filthy, stinky, shitty birds in a city instead of an actual wetland, where they’re supposed to be? Did one of them taste a fry and go back to tell the others about an easier life available in the big smoke?

The first influx of Australian White Ibis apparently turned up during a period of drought. And we’ve had a few since then. And we’ve done enough fiddling with their environment due to our own needs for water that they haven’t really had a choice but to move on and find another place to live. If you see photos of them in their actual habitat, they look clean and healthy, even regal. It’s easier to see why one of the Egyptian gods, Thoth, was depicted with the head of an ibis.

So…….it’s not exactly their fault. It’s ours. They’re just trying to get by. If anything, they’re an environmental warning to us that we should be heeding.

But just because they’re native animals just trying to adapt and survive, and just because I have sympathy for them……doesn’t mean I have to actually like them. Doesn’t been I won’t be calling them bin chickens. And it doesn’t mean that I can’t still want to find a way to take part in International Glare At Ibises Day from overseas.

"Bin Chickens" - Australian White Ibis

I was there in spirit


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  1. This could inspire us here in the U.S. to start a tradition of “Stare At Canada Geese Day”.
    Most things to come out of Canada–especially Canadians–are quite nice, but their geese aren’t. Then again they’re not as bad as ibises, nor do they seem to be an environmental warning.
    At least the ibises have some redeeming qualities even if they’re not pleasant to have around.

  2. “Glarer-in-Spirit and the Bin Chickens” should be the name of your Expat rock group. Check with the folks in Nashville to see about your recording contract! 🙂

  3. If I ever have occasion to view a bin chicken, either in person or on the telly, I shall take full advantage of my non-botoxed up eyebrows and commence full glare. Holiday or no.

  4. Ha! I love this! There are a lot of animals we should glare at. They can be annoying and assholes too. I’m an animal lover but I think sometimes they get a pass on bad behavior. Just like that kangaroo that attacked a guy’s dog. He deserved to get punched! Then there are monkeys. Don’t get me started on them. I don’t care how cute they are, those fuckers are mean. I found that out personally…

  5. As someone who has had the misfortune of pigeon and/or seagull shit falling on her multiple times, I didn’t know that there were birds that could possibly be worse than pigeons and seagulls! I’m glad that you were able to participate in such an important event from afar.

    • I was glad to be able to do my bit.

      One of my friends got shat on by a pelican, and jumped fully clothed off a dock into the ocean screaming because it was so damn awful. I wish I had been there to see him do it.

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