Many undergraduates who live in the South Student Neighborhood pass the intersection of Frericks Way and Stonemill Road on their path to class. This year, those students are greeted daily by a bird made from a hodgepodge of household items.
The statue, which is mounted on the porch of 305 Stonemill Road, has attracted a lot of attention. It has been featured on President Eric Spina’s Instagram and has dominated the conversations of many students, and even UD public safety officers, who have tried to figure out what the story is behind the Picassoesque bird statue.
Junior mechanical engineering major Dillon Schimmoeller, who lives in the house, said the perplexing bird is a family token he wanted to bring on campus.
“I figured… [the bird statue] would be a great thing to bring to college. So I did, and here it is,” Schimmoeller said.
The UD junior’s grandfather constructed about 15 similarly styled statues after his retirement more than a decade ago. The birds were distributed among family, and Schimmoeller’s house ended up with multiple statues. The mechanical engineering major decided to bring one of them to decorate his porch.
Schimmoeller’s housemates – juniors Nico de Leon (Operations Management), Paul Nguyen (Mechanical Engineering), Jared Puckett (Computer Engineering), Adam Roman (Communication), Matt Slisko (Computer Engineering) – responded with a collective “yeah” when asked if they were surprised at how popular their porch decoration has become.
The avian statue is nicknamed Ethyl, after the organic compound. It (or as Schimmoeller and his housemates would refer to it – “she”) has more than 200 followers on Instagram.
Ethyl’s social media presence spotlights her posed with sheet signs that always include some kind of bird pun or play on Ethyl’s name. For example, the house’s entry for the Commitment to Community Sheet Sign Contest read: “Byrds of a feather FLY Together.”
The Stonemill bird’s Instagram also features photos of her with students, alumni and Schimmoeller’s grandparents, Ethyl’s creators.
One of Ethyl’s Instagram followers, Spina, spurred the feathered statue’s popularity in August when he shared a photo of him with it, or rather her. Roman said the university president visited Ethyl when he was touring the student neighborhood at the start of this academic year.
“Next thing we knew, he was walking over to our porch,” Roman said. “We took a photo with him and the bird, and he [Spina] nodded his approval.”
Public safety officers, who are some of Ethyl’s biggest fans, advised the Stonemill residents to secure her with a bicycle lock to ensure no one takes the bird.
Roman said it’s possible fellow students may have tried to steal Ethyl. Schimmoeller has even challenged individuals to take the beloved bird. But they’re confident Ethyl is safe and secure on their front porch.
“I’d be surprised if nobody’s tried [to steal Ethyl], but I’m not surprised that they have failed,” Schimmoeller said.
The housemates said Ethyl loves taking pictures with her fans, who can follow her on Instagram (@ethyl.byrd). They should use the hashtag #ethylsquawk when posting pictures with her.
The six young men also announced “Ethyl-themed” merchandise is coming soon.
With how popular Ethyl has become, some wonder if more homemade statues of animals with misspelled names will begin popping up in the Student Neighborhood. Maybe it’ll become a new UD tradition, who knows?