’Birds aren’t real’ theory, debunked for conspiratorial NFL Draft prospects

You may have heard the youths online claiming “Birds aren’t real.” It’s supposed to be a satirical conspiracy theory around the idea that birds are actually drones that spy on us at the behest of the American government.

But some people truly believe birds aren’t real. Case in point: 2024 NFL Draft prospect and former Illinois tight end Tip Reiman at the combine.

The conspiracy theory acknowledges that, at one point, birds WERE real, but that the US government executed all of them between 1959 and 1971, replaced them all with drones to spy on us, and that these birds use power lines as an energy source like a magsafe charger.

I am not big into conspiracy theories, but I am a backyard bird enthusiast, which puts me in a position to assure you that birds are very real. Here are the top seven reasons birds are definitely real.

Biodiversity proves birds are real

As I write this, there’s a downy woodpecker at my suet feeder, a male cardinal and two Carolina chickadees at my seed feeder, an Eastern Towhee foraging underneath my feeders, and two brown thrashers, a Northern mockingbird, one male and one female Eastern bluebird, two female cardinals, a field sparrow, and a red-bellied woodpecker are hanging out in various trees and on my backyard fence awaiting their turns.

There’s no chance the federal government is investing enough into this drone scenario to create this level of biodiversity in a surveillance drone program. They’d be more likely to pick one species that’s easy to mass produce, doesn’t require a lot of variety in sizes and colors, and one where males and females aren’t easy to tell apart — a rarity in the bird world. If we had nothing but crows flying around in the US, I might be inclined to at least consider the possibility that they’re all drones. But that’s not the case.

Do drones poop? No.

Ducks are birds, and here’s a baby duck sitting on my shoulder. This duck’s name is Honey, and he pooped on me.

He’s so cute that I really didn’t care. But drones don’t poop. Case closed.

Can drones have babies? No.

But birds can. Here’s a fledgling blue jay I rescued last spring. He blew out of the nest on a breezy night and showed up dazed on my patio around 10 p.m., and luckily for him, I scooped him up before my dogs noticed.

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I got him to a safe, elevated spot to protect him from predators on the ground, and I made sure he had enough cover to shield him from becoming a midnight snack for a barred owl. Both parents (blue jays mate for life, and flocks live and travel and harass owls during the daytime together as a family unit) showed up in my backyard to rescue their baby as the sun came up. Could a drone even be programmed to have real avian instincts like that? How are they even having babies if they’re drones?

Plus, in holding this little fella (and the Eastern Phoebe who likes to hang out on my patio, so I pick her up regularly to protect her from becoming a snack for my dogs), it’s obvious that they’re flesh, blood, and feathered little creatures. Not drones.

Hummingbirds exist

Hummingbirds are a marvel of natural engineering. The smallest member of the bird kingdom is arguably the most interesting. Did you know hummingbirds are able to change direction and hover because, unlike other birds, their wings move in a figure 8 pattern at a speed of 60 to 80 revolutions PER SECOND?

Hummingbirds’ brains are incredible. They learn faces and remember people who are friendly (i.e. people who feed them) and learn to avoid people who are threats. The ruby-throated hummingbirds who frequent my feeder in the spring and summer (their names are Loretta, Dolly, Hank and Willie) know where my office is, and when the nectar is running low or isn’t fresh enough, they fly up to my office window and hover outside staring at me disapprovingly until I get up to refill my feeder. The reason I get the same core group of hummingbirds back each year is because they have top-notch spatial memory.

Hummingbirds are so smart and have such versatile powers of flight, and bird truthers might say that proves they’re drones created by the government to spy on us. I can’t even imagine what just one prototype of a hummingbird drone would cost the federal government, but whatever that cost would be, I guarantee they’re not spending it on each of the estimated 73 million hummingbirds in the US.

There are over 350 species of hummingbirds in existence, but only 15 are found in the US. So who’s paying for the rest of these tiny, colorful drones? The answer: They’re not drones. They’re birds.

Has a goose ever tried to fight you?

A goose tried to fight me once, and frankly, she kicked my ass. If the US government had really replaced every bird with a drone, why would they make the geese drones gigantic assholes? That’s not a trait I think they’d want in a surveillance drone.

So what about baby pigeons?

Tip Reiman’s baby pigeon question almost tripped me up, because I will concede that I’ve never seen a baby pigeon. That’s because pigeons tend to nest in high locations to protect their offspring until they’re ready to leave the nest. You’re not going to see a fledgling pigeon just learning to fly hopping around on a train platform bothering people for snacks because that fledgling won’t be able to make it back up to the nest. It’s science.

If power lines are recharging stations for bird drones, why am I spending so much money on birdseed and suet?

It really makes you think.

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