Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Oh poop!

I went to visit some off-site storage this last week. I had been out once before and was prepared for the stifling heat but was NOT prepared for the swooping figure in the dark. I only saw a single swoop before the door closed behind me and I was in darkness. With IT. Whatever IT was. I tried to find the lightswitch. Failed. I opened the door and finally managed to hit the switch. SWOOP. A bird flew by. A quick glance around reveled a bird nest, two birds, along with copious amounts of bird droppings.

Ah crap. I spent a few minutes regrouping. What should I do? I used a spare sheet to sweep dropping off the large pieces of furniture that we store in this building. I covered the few exposed artifacts with sheets. I found the owner and informed of the bird. I was hoping for a look of dismay, or possible embarassment. All he said was that there is no way of keeping birds out of these big metal buildings. WHAT?!?! The lack of appropriate temperature controls was one thing, but the owners just allows birds to roam free with no attempt to use grates or any protective material whatsoever? This isn't just bad for the artifacts, the hospital also stores instruments and furniture with this storage company. Isn't that stuff supposed to be sterile? I was shocked. I think he saw it in my face. He quickly said that he would send a man out to remove the nest. Ok, but what about the next little birdie? Or the one after that . . .

The problem with birds is that they are considered pests when it comes to curation and collections storage. Not only do the droppings have a high amount of uric acid (which willl deteriorate just about anything) but there are a large number of insects that come along with birds. Once you've got insects it is incredible difficult to get rid of them. You can't use insecticides because of the harm to the artifacts and there are few ideal solutions to the problem. I've been given the opporunity to write a mitigation report. I may remove specifics and add a Google Docs link later. Should be fun!!

This pic is NOT from the storage facility. It is just a picture of some bird droppings!

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Archaeology, Conservation and Curation by Whitney Rose Petrey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License