Robotic Falcons Take on English Pigeons

Pigeons—easily the most universally despised bird, right?. Likened to flying rats and considered harbingers of all sorts of ailments, the poor disease-bags rarely get any respect. Now their reputation is taking an even bigger hit in Britain, as the mayor of London attempts to control the birds' numbers in the city in what has been dubbed the Pigeon War. The feral rock doves, as they are technically known, are famous for flocking in the thousands to Trafalgar Square in the heart of London, where Mayor Ken Livingstone has decreed it illegal to feed the pigeons, giving them less reason to keep coming back to perch happily on the heads of statues and people alike.

Meanwhile, Liverpool is taking the war to the next level. That city's government has decided that the most sensible pigeon deterrent may be... robotic falcons. Called Robops (short for "robotic birds of prey"), the devices are meant to be installed in pigeon-populated areas and imitate the predatory shrieking and wing-flapping of a peregrine falcon, hopefully in a matter convincing enough to drive the pigeons elsewhere.

But just wait until you see the Robop's official Web site. Not only does it include an unexplained and under-construction page called "Applications: Churches," the pages that are already finished are no less mind-boggling—indicating that the English tech nerds behind the Robop either have the most extreme example of the legendary dry British wit the world has yet seen, or have simply lost their minds altogether.

The Liverpool city council has pledged to purchase 10 such Robops (at $4,000 a pop!) in an attempt to humanely deal with the pigeon problem. But just try explaining the humane angle to tourists once these robotic falcons become self-aware and the home of the Beatles gains even more fame as the staging ground for a real-life sequel to The Birds that Hitchcock didn't live to make. —Dan Smith