Birds Aren’t Real

Conspiracy theory

Birds Aren’t Real is a satirical conspiracy theory which posits that birds are actually drones operated by the U.S. government to spy on American citizens. In 2018, journalist Rachel Roberts described Birds Aren’t Real as ‘a joke that thousands of people are in on.’

The movement argues that all birds in the United States were exterminated by the government between 1959 and 1971 and replaced by drones (the specifics of these theories as reported in news articles are not always consistent, not unlike actual conspiracy theories). They claim that birds sit on power lines to recharge themselves, and that bird poop on cars is a tracking method.

Peter McIndoe (b. 1997) created the satirical conspiracy ‘on a whim’ in Memphis, Tennessee, in January 2017. He posted on Facebook: ‘I made a satirical movement a few months ago, and people on Instagram seem to like it a lot.’ However, he later disclaimed the post, saying it was written by a staffer who was fired, and did not admit until 2021 that he did not truly believe the conspiracy. The movement first attracted attention during the 2017 Women’s March at the University of Arkansas, at which McIndoe and other supporters appeared carrying anti-bird signs.

In 2019 a billboard was erected stating ‘Birds Aren’t Real’ in Memphis, Tennessee. McIndoe has used media bothsidesism to promote Birds Aren’t Real, once saying he was offended by a question of the movement was satirical, as such a question would not be asked of the opposite opinion (that birds are real). In 2021, he stated that he works full-time as a spokesperson for the movement, making money from sales of merchandize. In 2021, some supporters demonstrated in front of Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters demanding that the company change its bird logo.

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