Birds Live In Virginia Safeway Store

Jose writes,

I thought that the long lines and the produce always being out of stock was bad enough, but then I noticed the small family of birds living at my local Safeway (Nutley St, Fairfax, VA). I wrote a letter to Safeway’s corporate offices about a week ago to complain about the poor state of the store, but I guess that management really doesn’t care enough to act quickly. My question is, if there’s no birdbath inside Safeway, then where do the birds bathe?



We can’t imagine a more perfect bird sanctuary than a supermarket: plenty to eat in produce, “rainfall” every day, and no predators. At least not at this Safeway.

(Photos: josecmelia)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Jaysyn was banned for: says:

    They bathe in the pools of water that form in the bottom of the veggie cooler.

    What kind of bird are those anyhow, budgies?

  2. Womblebug says:

    They look to me like goldfinches. I’m used to seeing birds in the big box home improvement stores; they fly in through the receiving doors and they’re almost impossible to get out. But in a grocery store, they’d almost certainly be a health hazard. Hope they can remove them without hurting them, though.

  3. Randy says:

    Contact your local health department. I’m sure there has to be some law they’re violating.

  4. Roadkill says:

    Aww I think they’re cute.

  5. pine22 says:

    dude, birds live in like every big grocery store ive ever been in. next time i see one, ill make sure to grab a pic on my cell phone.

  6. mikesfree says:

    When Hitchcock goes shopping…

  7. snazz says:

    i used to see birds in Wegmans all the time. they were always so high up in the rafters, i dont think the management could do anything about them. i think id rather have a wild bird or two flying around the store than whatever pest control method or poison the store could put out to get rid of them.

  8. DeeJayQueue says:

    birds are very common in supermarkets and warehouses. Anywhere there’s something to attract them, and a chance for them to get in, they’ll be there. All it takes is a poorly insulated vent or pipe, or for someone to leave the back door open too long.

    a: this is why you wash your produce before you eat it. There is probably way worse than bird detritus already in the food before they get to it.

    b: most other food comes pre-sealed. If your rice-a-roni looks like a bird ate it, don’t buy it.

  9. Jaysyn was banned for: says:

    They should just let a few stray cats in at night :D

  10. some_stupid_nut says:

    @ROADKILL, Ditto! Aww!

  11. friendlynerd says:

    I saw on TV that the birds have figured out how to activate the motion sensors on the doors. They showed footage of birds that live at Home Depot…they always come home by closing time so they can get in and out. Opening time, they’re out the door.

    It’s kind of freaky, I wish I could remember what show it was.

  12. B says:

    @some_stupid_nut: Yea, nothing cuter than bird poop on vegetables.

  13. zentec says:

    If you don’t like the birds, you’re really not going to like the roaches.

    Seriously, grocery stores have no shortage of those things.

  14. IrisMR says:

    That lacks so much hygiene and yet that is SO cute!

    It reminds me of the mall around here… They have birds in the restaurant area… which is gigantic mind you. They have that arched ceiling, about 20 feet high. The little fellahs made their nest above a restaurant top, hidden away from sight. I was wondering why I was hearing chirping while I was feeding and when I looked up, here it was, flying across the mall…

  15. emona says:

    Reminds me of the mall when I was in high school. There were always birds zipping around there.

  16. Laffy Daffy says:

    Not that unusual. Just a few weeks ago I got buzzed while eating lunch in the Thompson Center, the big state building in Chicago’s Loop. Scared the hell out of me.

  17. Nighthawke says:

    The HEB locally had that issue until they installed ultrasonic “shoo-aways”. The emit sounds that are uncomfortable to the birds, keeping them away.

  18. axiomatic says:

    “My question is, if there’s no birdbath inside Safeway, then where do the birds bathe?”

    Yeah, my question is… “Where do they poop?”

  19. lostalaska says:

    There are no bird baths, just bird showers from the veggie misters. In the hustle bustle modern day world of birds who has time for a bath?

  20. stubblyhead says:

    Once in a while a bird would get into the cafeteria when I was in elementary school, and we would all go completely apeshit over it. The poor thing was probably scared out of its wits, but we thought it was the funniest thing to ever happen.

  21. BugMeNot2 says:

    Heh, you see the birds, you don’t see the mice. Trust me, grocery stores, even the high-end ones, are full of mice.

  22. faust1200 says:

    I for one welcome our new avian overlords.

  23. hi says:

    Birds love the Redbull and Pom. I wish I lived in a grocery store, those birds got it made.

  24. unklegwar says:

    Doesn’t all the produce grow OUTSIDE? Last time I checked, OUTSIDE is full of all kinds of animals. And Bugs. And pollution.

    That salad you’re eating? I bet something peed on it at some point.

  25. Whitey Fisk says:

    They’re changing the name of the store to UnSafeway.

  26. redhelix says:

    @BugMeNot2: Not here they aren’t, heh. I worked in produce receiving for a few years at the supermarket in my town and we never had a problem with rodents

    Well, besides the old people anyway

    (hurr hurr)

  27. clevershark says:

    @axiomatic: “Where do they poop?”


  28. jenfraiz says:

    Ha! I’ve shopped at that store and seen the birds. Sadly, it’s one of the better grocery stores in that part of Fairfax. But ya know, the birds don’t bother me. I think they’re cute and I wash my produce anyway. For those times I don’t, I’m sure it’s just helping my immune system… at least that’s what I tell myself.

  29. Anonymous says:

    There is a sparrow living in my office building. The area is lives in is quite nice. Its got a indoor botanical thing going with lots of big trees, a big fountain and glass roof/walls. Then, just beside the botanical place is a ‘Sunterra Market’. It’s open ‘resturaunt’ that has different lunch stations like salad bar, pasta place, hot entree place, sandwhich place… that also has glass walls and roof, filled with trees. I see the bird in there eating crumbs all the time. I actually told a security person I saw walking through once. he couldn’t spot the sparrow and obviosuly thought I was crazy. Needless to say its still there. The only part that makes me sad is that it’s all alone. No other little bird friends… and he/she has been in the building a long time. I would work harder to get it ‘kicked out’… but its -30 here latley so I think I’ll wait for spring before I liberate it to be with other bird friends.

  30. Anonymous says:

    @jenfraiz: Thats how I’d feel too!

  31. parad0x360 says:

    @unklegwar: yea maybe even one of us…think about it.

  32. That-Dude says:

    @DeeJayQueue: Again, why use logic and common sense in your debate? Patently unfair I say.

  33. UpsetPanda says:

    I was grocery shopping the other day and birds were in the store. I thought they were very cute, and one even beat me down the juice aisle. As long as you wash your veggies, you should be fine. I’m using to seeing birds at the mall, so a grocery store doesn’t seem to be weird to me. If you’re afraid of germs, think of all those unwashed hands stacking your produce into attractive piles…

  34. KogeLiz says:

    Birds live outside where the fruits and vegetables are grown, you know.

    I’ve seen birds in many supermarkets, stations, malls, etc. It always makes me smile.

    I guess it doesnt bother me in a grocery store setting because I am usually buying frozen food or wrapped food. Even if I bought produce, I wash it.

  35. Truthie says:

    Call the Fairfax (City? County? depends on the specific location of the store) Health Department AND the VA Dept of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs.

  36. skehl says:

    I don’t think I have ever seen a grocery store that did not have a bird problem. I used to by my groceries late at night. One time after midnight, I saw a Kmart employee with a pellet gun shooting the birds inside the store.

  37. tk427 says:

    They probably get rid of the insects, so I’m ok with that.

    @boones farmer:
    …by a bird?

  38. BugMeNot2 says:


    Maybe not in the produce section, you didn’t notice them, but go to the bagged grains aisle or in the warehouse, and you’ll find proof. Worked in several grocery stores over a 10 year period, and all of them had a rodent problem to some degree.

  39. m4ximusprim3 says:

    @melanie.dawn: Has anyone else ever been able to see the bird?

    Just asking….

  40. m4ximusprim3 says:

    @skehl: OMG I want that job. Talk about hunting in the urban jungle.

    Old lady: “Sir, can you tell me where the depends are?”

    Salesperson with gun: “Aisle 4, but watch out. I bagged a couple goldfinches there yesterday.”

  41. dapuddle says:

    What kind of a winer writes to headquarters to have something like this dealt with? Tell the local manager and if it isn’t fixed quickly, shop elsewhere.

  42. theblackdog says:

    Maybe we can borrow some Consumerist kitties to help out at the store.

  43. hubris says:

    Bird crap ain’t gonna hurt you. ‘Sides, you just wash everything anyway.

    Sheesh, when did we become so whipped and scared that we think our food has to be perfect. A peck of dirt, people, a peck of dirt.

  44. kingofmars says:

    In the book Black Hawk Down, the author mentions that one of the barracks had a bird problem(seagulls I think). After one of the birds crapped on a member of Delta Squad, they ordered a bunch of BB guns, and set up overlapping fields of fire to get rid of them.

  45. karmaghost says:

    @snazz: Really? I’ve never seen any birds in any of the Wegmans I’ve been in. Does yours not have a breeze-way?

  46. Banned in DC says:

    @Whitey Fisk:

    Funny you suggest that. In Washington, DC, many the Safeways have nicknames:

    Georgetown (embassy people and students) – Social Safeway
    Adams-Morgan (large salvadoran community) – Spanish Safeway
    Dupont Circle – Soviet Safeway (empty shelves and long lines)
    19th and T – Secret Safeway (no one ever finds it)
    Watergate – Senior Safeway (all old people)
    Eastern Cap Hill – Unsafeway

  47. polyeaster says:

    I have no problem with the birdies- I see them all the time at the grocery store, Wal Mart, etc. Wash your veggies and enjoy the taste of nature in Safeway- treat it like a hike where you buy overpriced food along the way.

  48. DeltaPurser says:

    How CUTE!!!!!!

    Next time one of you guys are at the Delta terminal at JFK, check out the birds there… They have been living inside Terminal 3 for years and are some of the fattest birds you’ll see! They hang out by Starbucks and eat crumbs all day long… Sweet life :-)

  49. juice80 says:

    I live very close to this Safeway. The birds are the least of their problems. You probably noticed them after waiting in line for 30 minutes every time you go there, regardless of the time or how many items you have.

  50. forgottenpassword says:

    LOL! I have seen birds flying around inside the big super walmart stores & roosting in the roof supports, but NEVER just stitting on the shelves!!!!! LOL! DAMN! That store must have a LOT of birds!!!!

  51. edwardso says:

    I enjoy seeing birds in the supermarket. They’re cute and I wash my produce

  52. DadCooks says:

    The birds are natural and fresh (organic too?), unlike most things in the grocery store.

    Ever hear of canaries in a coal mine? As long as the birds in the grocery store are okay, it should be safe to shop there ;)

  53. Nissan288 says:

    wait until you see the bald eagles flying around…

  54. perianmellon says:

    Long lines… out of stock produce… hey that’s my old Safeway store!

  55. Kenneth says:

    To all of you suggesting a stern call to the local sanitarian.. WHY? Seriously folks. If I find rat shit or dead roaches in my food, sure I’ll call, but a few birds in a big box store? Besides their cute. (yea, thats the best argument i got) really though, wash your damn veggies and don’t buy the box of Rice-a-Roni with bird shit on it.

  56. UpsetPanda says:

    @forgottenpassword: The bird that beat me down the juice aisle was just sitting on the shelf when I picked up my juice. So I guess they do just hang out.

  57. Rachacha says:

    @snazz: Not to worry…the poison that they generally use to get rid of flying pests comes in the form of lead from a pellet gun.
    Wegmans tends to keep their stores super clean, and while they may have birds in the store, I doubt that they have birds nesting amongst the produce week after week. I can visit a Wegmans that was built in the 1970s and it looks brand new when compared to the Safeway that was build last year.

    The difficult thing in a Wegmans is that most of their stores are open 24 hours a day/7 days a week so not only do you have to hunt down your prey, you also need to make sure that customers are 1) aware that store management is the “crazed psycho” walking around a grocery store with a gun, and 2) that your customers are not in the area of where you will be shooting from or where the bird will land.

    How many gift cards are standard for getting shot in the @$$ with a pellet gun or having a dead bird land on your head?

  58. Ihaveasmartpuppy says:

    Yes, they’re there to poop on the grapes people steal.

  59. thalia says:

    But where do they poo????

    I see these little guys in WalMart all the time, but then again there’s no food in our Wally’s, so I wasn’t all that concerned. That, and they always stuck to the pet section where all the birdseed is :P

  60. UpsetPanda says:

    @Rachacha: But why? Most people like the birds, don’t notice, or ignore them. There’s no need to kill them. Leave out a pan of birdseed, when they go to it, one by one, trap them and send them outside. It’s possible many of the birds came in accidentally and don’t know how to get out.

  61. smallestmills says:

    I take it this person has never shopped at a farmers market. Wait ’til they find out what’s in the fertilizer.

  62. nardo218 says:

    I don’t think they’re goldfinches, they’re too sleek. I think they’re just sparrows.

    I’ve seen them in Acme and Fresh Fields. I think they fly in and out the receiving doors; I didn’t notice any bird poo or feathers. Then again, I haven’t seen the tops of the shelves.

  63. Hoss says:

    Call the local health dept!! I can’t believe the “no big deal” attitude in this thread. There is plenty of unpackaged food in a store to be concerned about — salad bar, seafood, bakery, nuts — in addition to produce. I’m sure there’s someone wiping the bird crap off soda bottles, etc. — you’re going to buy food articles that had bird crap on them? The manager is a stiff and I’m glad someone alerted headquarters

  64. nardo218 says:

    @melanie.dawn: I doubt there’s just *one* sparrow. You just see one at a time.

  65. DAK says:

    @Hossofcourse: Preach it, brother. I’ve never seen a bird in a grocery store before. Even if I had, that’s still not cool. If it is, I’m going to start bringing my dogs into Safeway, too.

  66. ITDEFX says:

    LOL I know that store, it’s in the same shopping center as Microcenter. I guess it’s time for me to visit that store to see for myself lol.

  67. D.B. Cooper-Nichol says:

    Birds eat bugs.

  68. kitsu says:

    I shop at that Safeway all the time… after the local Wegmans, it is better than the other supermarkets in the area. I’ll be sure to wash my fruit better from now on, though.

  69. jacobmcgrandmothersweater says:

    I think I’ve been to that exact store… I got into a fight with a sparrow over the last can of albacore. Told me to drop dead

  70. failurate says:

    You know, most of those fresh veggies are not washed before they enter the store… and guess where veggies grow (for the most part)? Yep, outside. Guess who else lives outside? Birds. So, this is probably not the first time your food has been exposed to birds.
    Wash your food. Don’t buy food that is obviously damaged.
    Worry more about the animals you don’t see (rats, mice, cockroaches).
    Problem solved.

  71. amed01 says:

    You do realize that this will cause the cost of food at Safeway to rise…after all, someone has to pay for that ‘organic atmosphere’.

  72. marsneedsrabbits says:

    They live in the Lowes & Home Depot stores, too.

    I don’t know what to tell you except they can’t peck into cans of Spaghetti’O’s and if you don’t already wash your produce, nothing I can say here will help you.

    They’re birds. They live in nature. Which is where your food comes from. Deal with it.

  73. chartrule says:

    I have never seen a bird in the grocery store around the corner from my place (open 24/7 very convenient) but I have seen chipmunks wandering around in there.

  74. witeowl says:

    @Randy: Possibly, but have you ever tried to give a written citation to a bird? They just ignore you or, worse yet, sit there and mock you, twittering and twittering away. They think they’re so much better than us with their wings and songs and adorabliferousness.

  75. The Costco in California I used to go to a lot was always full of birds. I guess they preferred their bread and produce in bulk.

  76. jwissick says:

    If yer gonna shoot the birds.. make sure you have a hunting license…. Yes its required in most states.

  77. DAK says:

    @marsneedsrabbits: I think we’d all be perfectly happy if they were staying in nature. Safeway, however, isn’t exactly the great outdoors.

  78. tuhughes says:

    For the record, that Safeway store is not in a “poor state”, they just renovated it completely a couple years ago and every time I shop there it is clean. As for the bird, if you see bird poop on an item, don’t buy it, and who doesn’t wash their produce these days after the E Coli scares of the past year?

  79. ppiddyp says:

    You don’t need a hunting license to shoot pests (house sparrows are invasive species, if that’s what these are) in any states I know about, or farmers would have a hell of a time trying to deal with coyotes or pigeons in the barn or whatever….

    Discharging a firearm in a store, though? Dunno about that.

  80. moore850 says:

    That’s how you know the produce is REALLY fresh!

  81. JanetCarol says:

    This is my Safeway store as well, it’s like 30 degrees outside, let the birds hang out in the warmth. You must not be a pet owner.

  82. SundaySunday says:

    Ever been to a Farmer’s Market? They’re outdoors, so lot’s of birds, bugs, etc. Get over it and wash stuff off. And don’t you dare do any harm to those birds.

    /card-carrying member of National Wildlife Federation

  83. bookling says:

    Whatever. There are birds living in the Super WalMart, in the local shopping mall, and there were some living in the stock room of the grocery store where I used to work (though I never saw any out on the floor).

    Just wash your produce. Do you have any idea how many people have picked up that apple before you, and where their hands have been?

  84. EBounding says:

    At least they’re not rats.

    Now if they were hawks or Peregrine Falcons, that’d be really cool.

  85. hexychick says:

    Birds live in all kinds of stores. So do rats, rice, roaches, and other vermin. At least birds chirp and add to the atmosphere. Seriously though… my dad used to be an animal relocator and he’d get calls for birds in stores all the time. They are notoriously hard to catch because they just fly away to a high spot where you can’t even begin to reach them. The easiest way to get rid of them is poison, but people would go apeshit if you dared suggest that you kill a sparrow or two.

  86. hexychick says:

    @hexychick: *mice, not rice

  87. econobiker says:

    @ppiddyp: Actually about 10-15 years ago I think, some noodle head food store worker did get busted for shooting at birds in a food store with -get this, a shot gun. I think it was in NJ but cannot pull anything up on it- it might have only been a local report. No patrons were injured but the idiot worker did get a ticket and damage the store ceiling.

    Yeah I’d seen birds in the big box home improvement stores but nothing ever beat my cousin’s mice in KMart story when he worked there during high school. He and another kid on the evening shift were told to clean up and move the bulk dog food bags from an aisle end shelf base near the home and garden area. This was in one of the typically dead corners of the store with the wrong product positioned in it so the bags hadn’t sold in a long time.

    They got the store shop vacuum and some brooms to vacuum up the dog food chunks from the ripped bags. As they started to move the bags they soon realized that they had a mouse problem too as the critters started to jump from some of the torn bags they were moving around. Lacking any way to catch them, they did the obvious and cranked up the vacuum and started to try and suck them up. He said that when they got to the bottom of the stack, they were to move the endcap base to clean around and under it.

    The description he gave was incredible as apparently the mice had converted the 6″-8″ void under the metal base into a mouse nest resort with torn dog food bag paper and other soft stuff from the surrounding departments. That and the literal dozens of mice that started to haul ass when they picked up the base. He said he was vacuuming the mice up as quickly as he could as the other guy was trying to broom them back towards him as the ran around disconcerted from the vacuum noise and being awakened from their nest.

    He said it was one of the grossest things had had done. Then when they vacuumed as many as they could plus the nest they still heard some of them scrabbling around in the vacuum. So they went and filled a 5 gallon pail of water and sucked about half of it into the vacuum to drown them. He said that they then left the vacuum outside with a note to the manager that they were not going to open it up- that he should. My cousin said that he never found out what the manager did with the dead mice in the vacuum but that the store was visited by an exterminator soon after that.

  88. econobiker says:

    Actually about 10-15 years ago I think, some noodle head food store worker did get busted for shooting at birds in a food store with -get this, a shot gun. I think it was in NJ but cannot pull anything up on it- it might have only been a local report. No patrons were injured but the idiot worker did get a ticket and damage the store ceiling.

  89. SeanMike says:

    I think the only Safeway I’ve been to that didn’t have birds in it is the one in the basement of my building in Rosslyn.

    Still, I’ve been to a ton of grocery stores that have had them – not to mention other big stores such as Home Depots (the only place where I actually saw bird poop on the merchandise, and that was the one in 7 Corners – I won’t go back there again) and Wal-Mart.

    When I used to work at Kroger’s down in Roanoke we’d have races with the lobsters. If they got stuck under the shelves we’d have to chase them out with brooms.

    Seriously, though, grocery stores are like restaurants – you really don’t want to know what goes on behind closed doors.

  90. pauljunk says:

    You live in Fairfax and you shop at Safeway? There’s your problem right there. You’ve been blessed to be within a 5 mile radius of a Wegmans and instead you shop at dirty, filthy, overpriced, digusting bird pooping, crappy rotten produce selling, expired dairy product pushing, wait 45 minutes to check out 2 items that took you 3 minutes to pick off the shelf hell hole.

    Maybe instead of complaining to crappy Safeway on how crappy they are you should get yer head outta yer ass and realize how bad Safeway sucks and how awesome Wegmans is and start shopping at Wegmans!

  91. MBZ321 says:

    I work at a Wegmans and we have a bird problem too. The store is a little over a year old, but they didn’t seem to appear until recently…probably because of the cold weather.
    It is definitely a health hazard, but nobody seems to care. We have had bird food lures and things set up, but the birds are smarter. It is usually only one or two, but they always fly around the 2nd floor cafe area (tons of fake trees), which is not sanitary at all. I guess they’ll wait until one poops on someone who is eating their meal before they do anything.

  92. PeterLynn says:

    I used to work at a grocery store in a mall, and every so often, a parrot or similar bird would get loose from a nearby pet store and fly all around my store, squawking excitedly, provoking reactions ranging from bemusement to panic among the staff and customers. I remember this happening at least three times, and it was always awesome.

  93. Kendra says:

    <sarcasm> Really? I had no idea! </sarcasm>

    Birds can also live at:
    – Walmart
    – Home Depot
    – Lowe’s
    – Old navy
    – Your attic!

    Basically they’ll take up root in any place where they’re not driven out.

    Most stores do not have the ladders/cherry pickers that will
    allow them to reach to roof height, nor want to _deal_ with the birds
    in the first place.

  94. timsgm1418 says:

    I think there is a possibility of worse things than bird poop on the veggies..@B: