'Birds Aren't Real' Followers Flock to Missouri, Claim Birds Are Government Drones

A group of demonstrators gathered in Springfield, Missouri, on Thursday as part of a movement claiming that birds are actually drones operated by the government.

One video posted to social media shows crowds of people carrying signs with various slogans written on them. One read: "If it swoops, it snoops. Birds aren't real. Wake up sheeple."

Another demonstrator's sign claimed that when birds innocuously sit on power lines, they are in fact charging their batteries. It's unclear how many people showed up.

The movement, called Birds Aren't Real, is considered to be tongue-in-cheek, possibly making a dry mockery of genuine conspiracy theorists. Bird protection society Audubon has called the group a marketing scheme to sell related merchandise.

One prominent group member, Peter McIndoe, has represented the group in media reports a number of times. On its website, the group acknowledges him as a representative.

McIndoe told news site Block Club Chicago in 2018 that the campaign is meant to show "we are living in a post-truth era," and he told Newsweek this year that the group is a "post-truth era comedy project."

Birds Aren't Real has been operating for years, having created a Twitter account in 2017. News stories documenting the group's publicity stunts over the years can be traced back to 2018—though McIndoe told Newsweek in March that it has been operating since the 1950s.

According to a PSA video produced by the group, the U.S. government has been killing off birds since the Eisenhower administration and replacing them with "sophisticated robot replicas" with five megapixel cameras and tracking systems.

'Liquid Tracking Apparatus'

Amid this week's Springfield rally, McIndoe told reporters that he believes birds are "charging on power lines" and that "bird poop on cars is liquid tracking apparatus."

CBS 42 reported that followers of the group are making fun of mainstream conspiracy theories such as QAnon.

Yet McIndoe doesn't break character during media interviews. Audubon states McIndoe is a 20-year-old college student at the University of Memphis, Tennessee, and the "creative muscle" behind the group.

McIndoe defended the group's legitimacy in a phone call with Audubon, stating: "The thought that this could be used to make a satire of a dark and tense time in American culture—I find those things to be baloney."

As of Friday afternoon the Birds Aren't Real group on Reddit boasted more than 385,000 members. Its Instagram account—on which there are links to the group's merchandise page—shows it has 319,000 followers.

Earlier this month, the FBI warned that followers of the conspiracy group QAnon could engage in violence against political opponents, according to a threat assessment sent to lawmakers and obtained by CNN.

Pigeons on wire
Pigeons pictured perched on a wire in California in August 2016. The group is considered to be a tongue-in-cheek joke. Frederic J. Brown/AFP / Getty