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Birds Make Terrible Dive Bombers

Author: Jim Zabek

Mankind has been inspired by birds for as long as we could appreciate their ability to fly. We have marveled at their ability to take off on a moment’s notice, soar effortlessly through the sky, and alight somewhere that we could never aspire to climb. Nature, fantastic and wonderful, has managed to perfect through evolution some fantastic creatures.

Mankind, always inventive, seems determined to take that evolutionary perfection and improve it to his own ends. Nowhere could this be more obvious than during the Cold War, when the CIA concocted a brilliant scheme to teach cats to spy on people. The idea was simple: surgically implant a microphone and transmitting device inside of a cat, then teach that cat to walk up to a suspected pair of people having a suspect conversation, and Presto! The purrrfect eavesdropping device. Operation Acoustic Kitty was born.

Looks good on paper!

Looks good on paper!

There was only one minor obstacle. As anyone who has ever owned a cat knows, they are amazingly poor choices to carry out orders from humans.

Birds-Bad-Dive-Bombers-Grumpy-Cat-Says-No

Any questions?

Never one to let common sense get in the way of a great idea, the CIA proceeded with the experiment and obtained predictable results: upon release to the target, the cat, having been the beneficiary of wondrously high tech surgical implants and specialized stealth training to search out and find suspected spies and traitors did what any well-trained cat would do in those circumstances. It ran like hell to get away from its owners and, if reports are accurate, managed to get run over by a vehicle in the street, thus giving the CIA a road test of its technology for durability under realistic conditions.

Operation Acoustic Kitty was not the first nor surely the last time that we’ve attempted to use animals in defense of our nation.

Often (though not always) elegant to watch, most of us assume birds are superb pilots. Luminaries no less than the famous behaviorist B.F. Skinner himself conducted experiments with birds during World War II in an attempt to create the first “smart bombs.” Through the use of intensive training he trained birds to peck at the image of a target and home in on it.

Go get 'em, tiger!

Go get ’em, tiger!

The hope was to use the bird’s training to guide a bomb dropped from a plane toward a target such as a ship. Level flight bombers were having great difficulty hitting a moving ship during the war and while the idea of having a directed munition aimed at a ship would prove to be the wave of the future, hooking pigeons up to an elaborate electronically guided nose cone would see limited success. Supposedly cats were also used in an attempt to right an unstable bomb – the theory being that a cat always lands on its feet. However, the stress of falling several thousand feet without touching land tended to cause cats to lose consciousness, thus rendering them poor material for intelligent delivery systems.

A smart bomb with bird brains.

A smart bomb with bird brains.

Clearly the formula of mixing animals with military objectives has had mixed results.

I have uncovered evidence that birds are unsuitable for use as dive bombers. It may come half a century too late for B.F. Skinner, and high tech software may have rendered using animal brains as obsolete, but I intend to record my findings for the sake of posterity. You know, just in case anyone were to decide to go back and attempt to recycle an old idea.

I now present to you, dear reader, the clearest evidence yet that birds are terrible dive bombers. We have all heard stories of people who have been subject to the abuse of birds. Who hasn’t been told of a hapless victim with flawlessly coiffed hair that was ruined by a bird which pooped on it as it zoomed past? But think: why is it that those stories are so rare? How is it that we have all heard these stories yet so seldom encounter fresh ones? The answer is obvious: birds are terrible dive bombers.

How do I know this? Photos were taken to perform bomb damage assessment, of course. Allow me to present the evidence. Here we see the target: patio furniture. Measuring 34.5 inches by 34.5 inches and standing 40 inches high, at first glance this would seem to be a difficult target to hit. However, consider that birds have been pooping from the air for literally millions of years and you will begin to appreciate how finely honed their sense of targeting should be.

Yellow circles denote misses, red circles denote direct hits.

Yellow circles denote misses, red circles denote direct hits.

Consider also the compete suppression of AAA. This target is only lightly defended by three ground-based canines and they spend most of their time sleeping.

You call this heavy defenses?

You call this heavy defenses?

Further, from the evidence it is clear that multiple runs have been taken at this target. It is not unfamiliar. Yet look at how inaccurate the birds’ aim is.

A second target. Equally abysmal aim.

A second target. Equally abysmal aim.

I’ve seen fraternity brothers after a keg party have better aim. One thing is certain. Do not use birds as dive bombers. Even with complete AAA suppression, free availability of approach, and a thorough reconnaissance of the area they are highly inaccurate.

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