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UN Wants Birds to Wear Backpacks

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Birdy backpacks proposed to fight the spread of avian influenza…

No, really.

A new plan calls for scientists to attach tiny backpacks filled with sophisticated telemetry equipment to wild birds — with tape? staples? hot glue? — and track them with a system of chirping radio beacons and satellites, with the data fed into the tweety computers of ornithologists, ecologists, virologists, and epidemiologists in their nests around the world.

A just-completed international scientific conference called by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health concluded that although human activities such as poultry production and trade are principally responsible for spreading the disease, wild birds do play a role in transporting bird flu over long distances.

The $6.8 million FAO scheme calls for the capture of thousands of wild birds before they migrate, testing them for disease, and fitting the very luckiest of our feathered friends with magic backpacks, which weigh under 50 grams each. The backpacks — it had to be backpacks since birds don’t have arms and can’t carry luggage or anything — would indicate migrating birds’ exact whereabouts when they stop over for rest and recreation on their picaresque journeys.

And I would guess the freighted fliers would be stopping for R&R a little more often than their birdy buds.

Ground-based teams would then re-test the sample birds for disease and, in the case of a positive return — well, positive for the disease but surely negative for the bird — have a good idea of where the infection originated and where it might head next.

No mention was made if any of the funds will be allocated for psychological counseling, since clearly the backpack birds will be teased mercilessly and/or ostracized by their peers for their bizarre and ostentatious travel accessories.

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About Eric Olsen

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com/ Eric Berlin

    I wonder if the backpack birds will become the most popular and shun their forlorn and backpackless birdy brethren.

  • http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-qkDlFXcyeqsyFgDMSIqn4oYU Cameron Graham

    I bet so. I bet the backpacking birds will becoming fashion icons and the other birds will start creating makeshift backpacks out of random things they find. It’ll be quite interesting to watch the birds flying by with a pebble held to their back with a string trying to imitate the backpacking birds.

  • Eric Olsen

    see, I saw it the other way: that the backpack birds would be shunned, but you guys could be right. I wonder if it will have evolutionary impact

  • http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-qkDlFXcyeqsyFgDMSIqn4oYU Cameron Graham

    Most definitely, non-backpack birds may start growing cartilage lumps on their backs.

  • Eric Olsen

    do you think we’ll see a bird BORN with a backpack eventually?

  • Dawn

    Do they attach them over their little wings? Are they color coordinated to match their plumes?

    If it helps prevent a bird-flu outbreak and the mass panic that grips us, I am all for accessorizing wild fowls.

  • David

    Okay.. birds are very very lightweight for their size (having hollow bones and all) simply to keep their weight down and mobility up. Now lets throw a bunch of 50 gram packs on them, and viola, now they are falling victim to prey more easily than non-backpack versions.

    I hope that all the bird flu backpackers get eaten up by other species and then we can spread the bird flu to all bird-eaters as well!

    At least they haven’t strapped surveillance packs to US …yet…

  • David

    Anyway, this is just another scare tactic to keep you afraid of your own shadow, keep you watching the news, and distract from things like the War in Iraq (soon to be Iran) and the enormous amount of money we are wasting on it, and the high gas prices etc.

    Remember the SARS ‘epidemic’ anyone?

    I eat a bowl of bird-flu for breakfast everyday and I’m just fine thank you very much…

  • Eric Olsen

    good point about being more susceptible to predators, David, though I am hazy on the War in Iraq connection. This is an org of the UN proposing this – not the Pentagon

  • David

    Eric, I wasn’t saying that the backpacks are a direct connection to the War in Iraq….

    …rather that the government controlled fascist news media in the US is using Bird Flu the same way they have used SARS in the past.

    They use it to distract from things their masters don’t want you to hear about. They also want to make sure that you feel like if you don’t keep watching their crappy news network… then you WILL MOST CERTAINLY DIE of bird flu.

    I, on the other hand, am currently snorting crushed SARS off the beak of a diseased chicken…

  • Eric Olsen

    you are bold!

  • Joey

    Actually, Jefferson Davis is indirectly responsible for the current state of global terrorism.

    It all started after England failed to receive King Cotton from the American market. Observing the desvastation this lack of raw material was having on the textile industry in England. The Brits went searching for another market. Exploited Egypt, which led to an authoritive,controlling government, which caused hate and discontent, which caused young affected radicals to rise up …..

    Do you see where I’m going with this? Me neither.

  • JR

    Actually, Egypt had long had vast agricultural resources. The industrialization and exploding population of Europe, looked set to make Egypt a player in the world economy. With American cotton tied up by the war, Egypt planned to make their fortune in that market. They concentrated their agriculture on cotton, and started deficit spending against future income to pay for vanity projects to promote Egypt’s international status.

    Then the American civil war ended. All that cotton came on the market and prices collapsed. Egypt couldn’t pay off their debts to England, so the British eventually took over, giving them a firm colonial foothold in the Middle East.

    With control of the Suez Canal, Britain sought to establish a friendly buffer state in Palestine, thus leading to the nation of Israel.

    Egypt also gave the British a staging ground from which to war against the Ottoman Empire during WWI. Using the promise of land won from the Turks, Britain made deals with Arab tribal leaders, which led to the establishment of Saudi Arabia under essentially feudal leadership. Having no particular legitimacy or competence, the government of Saudi Arabia uses radical Islam to maintain public subservience.