A new blog by pigeons gives a bird’s eye view of air quality
A recent article announced a new milestone in the blogging world — the very first blog by pigeons. A team at University of California Irvine is gathering data on smog particles in the atmosphere using pigeons outfitted with “backpacks and cell phones.” (Because they don’t already gab enough on apartment windowsills.) The project was inspired by WWII homing pigeons equipped with spy cameras.
The team devised a feather-weight minipack with an antenna, a cell phone SIM card, global positioning system equipment, and a pollution sensor. The GPS tracks the pigeon’s exact location, the sensors pick up airborne pollutants, and the information is text-messaged to the website.
The naturally meandering route of a pigeon gives the experiment a random quality that creator Beatriz da Costa intended. The project does have its detractors, though.
“It’s an experiment with animals that is unnecessary,” [PETA spokesperson Holly] Mattern said. “It just shows bad decision-making on a lot of people’s parts.”
Here’s a short list of some of PETA’s concerns:
- Constantly being on the Internet could limit real social interaction between pigeons.
- Sites like MySpace could make them easy victims for predators such as cats and coyotes.
- Pigeons already have an unhealthy grayish pallor without spending all their time staring at a computer screen and eating Cheezits.