For all the beauty and fanfare that comes with playing in a stadium located right on the water, the San Francisco Giants have had to battle a familiar pest with annoying regularity this season: Seagulls.
While the birds have always hovered in and around AT&T Park, for whatever reason this season they seem to be flocking to the stadium in particularly large numbers.
It was first noticeable at the World Baseball Classic, and the problem has persisted through the first few months of the regular season.
Whereas normally the seagulls arrive late in the game to munch on leftover food, this year players and fans have noticed that they're encroaching on the stands and the field earlier than before.
"I've looked out on the field and seen actual poop dropping," Giants first baseman Brandon Belt told the Wall Street Journal. "I just make sure I don't get pooped and peed on."
There are several theories as to why the seagulls are flocking to games in larger numbers this year. Jorge Costa, the Giants' senior vice president of field operations, told the Wall Street Journal that there may be a shortage of fish in the Bay.
"They'll go to where the food source is easiest," Costa said.
Another theory is related to the disappearance of Bruce Lee, a red-tailed hawk which was supposed to scare away seagulls.
To counteract the large numbers of seagulls, the team has played bird-distress calls on the loudspeakers and encouraged fans to be raucous. This doesn't always work, however, because the seagulls use certain cues to figure out when to return. For example, when they hear the singing of the seventh-inning stretch after the top of the seventh, they know the game is almost over and there is soon to be tons of free food for the taking.