A walk around downtown Flagstaff may lead to the chance discovery of a nondescript sticker with a bold statement: birds aren’t real.
The presence of these stickers can be traced to the Birds Aren’t Real movement, an internet sensation.
Accprding to its website, the movement started as a protest to stop the alleged genocide of birds in 1976. Since then, the movement’s goals have shifted from preventing a bird genocide to bringing the public eye to the eradication of birds.
Eugene Price, a retired member of the CIA, said in an interview with Birds Aren’t Real that he was part of a secret CIA operation codenamed “Water the Country.” This operation aimed to remove all living birds in the United States.
“They used a poison gas dropped from airplanes,” Price said in an interview. “They were replaced with fake birds. They were electronic decoys.”
Price, who claimed he was in charge of destroying evidence of the operation, said these bird drones were intended to be surveillance equipment to watch people without anyone knowing it.
In recent years, the movement has been popularized on platforms like TikTok and YouTube, where videos such as the infamous, “The birds work for the bourgeoisie,” TikTok have caught the attention of young people worldwide. In the last few weeks, the Birds Aren’t Real movement reached Flagstaff.
This year sophomore Brendan Trachsel founded the NAU Birds Aren’t Real club to spread awareness around the university and Flagstaff.
Trachsel is the club’s president and was first introduced to the movement through an Instagram advertisement two years ago. Now a self-proclaimed bird truther, Trachsel brought the grassroots movement to Flagstaff, adding to the 300 Birds Aren’t Real subgroups Trachsel said have started across the country.
In addition to spreading awareness, Trachsel said there are hopes of restoring the bird population through advocacy and lobbying. However, Trachsel said the movement still has a long way to go before achieving bigger goals.
“To really bring the birds back, we would need the government to admit to the atrocities they have done,” Trachsel said.
He said these atrocities include killing nearly all birds in the U.S. and replacing them with biomechanical drones, which are able to easily pass as real birds.
The biomechanical drones, designed to look and act like birds, also follow the habits of their natural predecessors. Vultures, Trachsel said, are drones focused on public sanitation in rural areas.
Hummingbirds, Trachsel said, are attack drones for the government that use their small beaks to attack government targets.
Though he has not seen footage of these attacks himself, Trachsel said he is confident the footage is out there, under the careful censorship of the government.
Though biomechanical bird surveillance equipment and attack drones may seem far-fetched, Trachsel points to similar operations in China.
According to Business Insider, the highly realistic drones are decked out with cameras, GPS, realistic flight patterns and satellite communication.
The U.S. also has a history of dabbling in similar surveillance equipment disguised as birds or designed to replicate birds.
Project Aquiline, a canceled surveillance program recently declassified by the CIA, is one example of surveillance equipment designed to replicate an eagle.
The Aquiline drone was described in declassified documents as an extremely high potential project with low risk due to a small design, much less provocative than any other and having no military equipment.
Similarly, the Maveric Mini Unmanned Aerial System (MUAS), a drone built in Florida was designed to fly high and imitate the appearance of a bird. Like Project Aquiline, MUAS can be used for intelligence gathering, target tracking and surveillance, reconnaissance and other goals.
Whether projects like Aquiline or MUAS were ever intended to spy on U.S. citizens or not,
Peter McIndoe, a leader in the Birds Aren’t Real movement, said in an interview it is time for a change in legislation.
“The government mercilessly genocided over 12 million birds,” McIndoe said. “This movement is reactionary. We didn’t start this, the government started this.”