“I don’t know anyone who loves them.”
February 5, 2024 10:50 AM   Subscribe

Behold, the bin chicken: Sydney’s stinky, grimy but (mostly) beloved bird (WaPo gift link) Meet the Australian white ibis. It's not pretty, it smells bad, it poops huge, and it's always in your trash. Of course, some humans have now become fans of it, dressed like "sexy bin chickens," and made a rude song and a fake documentary about them, previously mentioned here in 2017.
posted by jenfullmoon (30 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
As an American who only knew ibises from books about Egyptian gods, it's been pretty funny to learn that they are regarded as a kind of raccoon-pigeon, behaving with all the inherent dignity thereto. Not sure why you would look at this bird and think: I bet he invented writing.
posted by Countess Elena at 11:10 AM on February 5 [11 favorites]

We've got ibises down here in Florida and they're a delight. They roam around in packs, making little cooing noises and picking through the grass looking for food. And they're the only bird I've ever seen to stand on a telephone wire rather than sit our crouch. Total weirdos!
posted by saladin at 11:16 AM on February 5 [5 favorites]

I don't need this explained to me. I have a seven-year-old. I've seen Bluey.
posted by Naberius at 11:16 AM on February 5 [11 favorites]

I actually do love them, but that might be easier to say as someone who’s only ever been a tourist in Sydney.
posted by eirias at 11:19 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]

I see your bin chicken and I raise you a trash panda.
posted by heyitsgogi at 11:29 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]

Marsh value tax would solve this.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:32 AM on February 5 [5 favorites]

"First, Brett tried booting a football into the branches to scatter the birds, but in this game of bin chicken, the birds barely flinched."

Well played, WaPo.
posted by cnidaria at 11:39 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]

Yeah, since I left Central FL I miss seeing ibis wandering around parking lots. We had a group that used to hang around the McDonald's, where the resident cattle egret ate fries and rode around on top of cars in the drive-thru.
posted by credulous at 11:55 AM on February 5

A canada goose crossed with a seagull?
posted by atomicstone at 12:10 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]

Metafilter: “Bin chickens”....... “But sexy bin chickens.”
posted by lalochezia at 12:13 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]

I think they're beautiful.

Top comment on WaPo article FTW.

So, humans destroy the habitat of the ibis, The ibis adapts to eating the garbage we leave around, and people are very annoyed 🙄. I guess a good solution might be to stop destroying the habitat of animals that also have a right to exist.
posted by lalochezia at 12:13 PM on February 5 [10 favorites]

I am fascinated by the wild animals that show a high degree of adaptability to humans (raccoons, bears, pigeons, these bin chickens) vs the ones that just cannot withstand the encroachment of human settlements. like they just got lucky, I guess, that our garbage is interesting and sufficiently nourishing for them...
posted by supermedusa at 1:56 PM on February 5

I love the ones I have hung out with in florida, sharing bits of waffle cone with them while eating icecream. Having one of those beaks take food from your hand is like being cautiously attacked by chopsticks.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:32 PM on February 5 [6 favorites]

Oh, and peacocks. They eat trash, and have adapted well to cul-de-sac life in FL. There's always someone willing to feed and protect them who doesn't mind the constant screaming. Basically noisy vainglorious turkeys.

Ibis are pretty chill. OTOH, pelicans and blue herons can mess you up (and one another)
posted by credulous at 2:45 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]

I like them too - they're just doing the best they can, and they do it well.

Bin Chickens 4 Life
posted by awfurby at 2:48 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]

Having one of those beaks take food from your hand is like being cautiously attacked by chopsticks

brb, squatting on that as my new sockpuppet name
posted by eirias at 3:10 PM on February 5 [9 favorites]

There's always someone willing to feed and protect them who doesn't mind the constant screaming. Basically noisy vainglorious turkeys.

Birds who put all their stat points into Has No Chill and Has Yes Volume
posted by Johnny Assay at 3:17 PM on February 5 [5 favorites]

Ibis in cities are an absolute menace - they have learned how to open bins, so the lids of bins have to have a steel strap over them so they can only open almost enough to get a coffee cup in. They sneak up behind people sitting in parks having their lunch and steal food from them. If they can get into a bin, they'll pull everything out in search of food. It's not really fair to blame them, though, given we destroyed their natural habitat so they moved into wherever they could find food. Because food is now so plentiful, they've bred quickly and taken over pretty much every city park.

The 'bin chicken name' came from a meme-type thing going around a few years ago, positing that all birds were actually different varieties of chicken. So we have beach chickens (seagulls), swoopy chickens (magpies, AKA swoopy bois), park chickens (pigeons) and so on. Most of the names didn't stick but a few are still used and bin chicken is the most common.
posted by dg at 5:36 PM on February 5 [7 favorites]

Ah, the curlew. when I lived in Jacksonville three ibis' tried to steal my Corolla by land air and sea.
posted by clavdivs at 5:37 PM on February 5

I'm pretty sure the meme is just extending the already in use bin-chicken theme to other birds
posted by onya at 6:33 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]

W/r/t the sacredness of ibises in ancient Egypt, I am absolutely convinced that a species fixated on humans, that creates spaces in highly public places only it will inhabit, driving all other life away, and that smells like death, has something otherworldly going on
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 7:23 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]

And sacred ibis are extirpated from Egypt. Yes I also needed to look that up. A local extinction due to change of ecology. They seem to be doing well internationally though. They came down south to South Africa some time back. Remember first seeing them in the 90s in Durban. Some hate them, some love them. But they're don't OK. Along with the rose-ringed parakeets, to the detriment of other species.
posted by BrStekker at 8:06 PM on February 5

For my Linux brethren, please accept this important invocation
sudo sh -c 'echo "#!/bin/sh\\nsensible-browser https://duckduckgo.com?t=ffab\&q=bin+chicken\&iax=images\&ia=images" > /bin/chicken && chmod a+x /bin/chicken'

posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:19 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]

The National Aviary in Pittsburgh has this great wetland room where you can see I believe four different kinds of ibises. Unlike most bird exhibits I’ve been to, in this one you are enclosed with the birds, and some of them will get quite close. I don’t recall any of these ibises being quite as insouciant as the bin chicken, though.
posted by eirias at 2:44 AM on February 6

The word has an uncommon plural form, "ibides" (from the Latin, I believe.)
posted by JimDe at 4:25 AM on February 6

The word has an uncommon plural form, "ibides" (from the Latin, I believe.)

I wanted to look this up to find the original source, but everything I found was just referring to the previous one.
posted by notoriety public at 4:47 AM on February 6 [9 favorites]

Didn't know about these birds until very recently, when I encountered them in person in the Sydney Botanic Gardens. Didn't seem to be any kind of problem if you had no food. They were extremely blase about closing distance with people, and are kind of unnerving to the uninitiated, as they have bright white plumage and burnt-looking, leathery skin all over the head and neck. That part reminded me of the Skeksis from Dark Crystal.
posted by cult_url_bias at 3:31 PM on February 6

I spent time on and off in Sydney from 1999 to 2019, and I never had a bin chicken even make an attempt at my food. I don't know if I was lucky or if that is new behavior.
posted by rednikki at 7:00 PM on February 6

Agreed, I've been here for a few months and have never seen them bother an actual person.

Seagulls though, I have seen them steal food out of someone's hands multiple times already. (I saw one take a guy's whole sandwich as he was running across the street)
posted by LizBoBiz at 10:11 PM on February 6

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