Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Pigeon Power

Kill two birds with one stone...
  (+7, -5)
(+7, -5)
  [vote for,

The pigeon. The scourge of the city. The bearer of disease. The poo-er of much smelly grey poo. They serve no real purpose other than to fly up into my face for no apparent reason and scare the living shit out of me. I don't like them.

The behaviourist BF Skinner, on the other hand, was something of a pigeon fancier, using them extensively in his work. He discovered that he could train pigeons to peck at a food dispenser when they wanted food. He also discovered that if he made the dispenser button stiffer, the pigeons would increase the amount of energy they expend accordingly. Extrapolating from this, it is possible to train a pigeon to peck at a food dispenser button, gradually increasing the amount of energy that the pigeon needs to expend to get the food, until such a point as the pigeon is expending more energy in the pecking that it receives from the food. The pigeon will eventually die from exhaustion/starvation. Advantage one: fewer pigeons.

If the dispenser button was also hooked up to a mechanical electricity generator, the movement of the button on each peck could be transformed into a small electrical charge. If we had warehouses full of tiers and tiers of rows and rows of caged pigeons, each pecking away at a food dispenser button, each generating a small amount of electricity (with each peck taking it closer to death) then we'd have plenty of electricity. Advantage two: more electricity.

Don't think I haven't thought this through. There are some disadvantages. The animal rights lobby would be unhappy, I'm sure. But if the government were to either keep this a secret or reclassify pigeons as terrorists, that issue could be sidestepped. The other major disadvantage would be the almighty stink of the warehouses. Aside from that, this idea is flawless.

calum, Apr 13 2002

Google's use of pigeons http://www.google.c...ogy/pigeonrank.html
Found on a search for BF Skinner [calum, Apr 13 2002]

One of Skinner's less pigeon-friendly ideas http://historywired...u/object.cfm?ID=353
[calum, Apr 13 2002, last modified Apr 14 2002]

Insomnia http://mulrooney.po...o.uk/tongues52.html
*or* Pigeon-Terror [thumbwax, Apr 13 2002]

Bonsai Kitten http://www.bonsaikitten.com
[calum, Apr 15 2002]

Do you know your pigeons http://www.guardian...5961,434726,00.html
[stupop, Apr 15 2002]

Peck Here http://www.urbanwildlifesociety.org/UWS/
Urban Wildlife Society [reensure, Apr 15 2002]

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       if there were only one pair of pigeons in any one country, they would be a protected species. they are the weeds of the bird world. every bit as beautiful and magical as any other species but the fact that they are such a successful species and hence so many of them; that people fear them and are disgusted by them. do we really sub-consciously imagine that they are going to take over the world?
po, Apr 13 2002

       BTW didn't Skinner falsify the results of some of his experiments? get back to you on that one.
po, Apr 13 2002

       //every bit as beautiful and magical as any other species

What even those manky one legged, scraggy winged, grotty things that infest London? Nah, they're no' right.
mcscotland, Apr 13 2002

       What if you end up with these really buff pidgeons? I mean, they can still eat garbage, no? Snatch the occasional bug or what-not? All you're doing is giving them little pigeon gymnasiums where they can workout all day then get paid for it. Good Ghod, man! Imagine it! Armys of Schwarzenegger-like fowl decending upon the hapless populous! Oh, the humanity!
phoenix, Apr 14 2002

       I can just picture them in their little leather thongs - power TO the pigeons
po, Apr 14 2002

       While enjoying your croissant, be sure not to drop any crumbs for those pigs with wings
thumbwax, Apr 14 2002

       Destroying pigeons = croissant. Don't really care how you do it.
angel, Apr 15 2002

       OK. With the exception of po's robust (if slightly pervy) defence of pigeons, there is a consensus. Pigeons are bad and must be punished.   

       Phoenix, you raise a valid point, one that caused me trouble before bobofthefuture presented the solution - the plexiglass box. An almost airtight plexiglass bottle that the pigeon is thrust into from hatching. The head of the pigeon will protrude out of the bottle into the "pecking zone." Only the head of the pigeon will be given any freedom of movement. I'm thinking battery hens meet bonsai kitten. The only superstrong muscles the pigeons can develop will be those used in the pecking motion. The wing and leg muscles will wither away to nothing. The solid roof of the plexiglass box will eliminate the risk of 'unauthorised feeding' be it on flies or crumbs.   

       The stink-poo problem can be avoided by connecting a pipe directly to the rectums of the foul vermin, which is drained away to somewhere that deserves a torrent of pigeon effluence, somewhere like Edinburgh.   

       Those who work in the power plants (especially the 'plumbers') should get to wear magnificent crimson and purple capes, and shiny leather boots. They should be paid well and be granted all the perks - company car, 6 weeks paid holiday a year, Filipino manservant called Tim. Measures should be put in place to ensure that they are treated with the utmost respect and deference by a grateful populace [spelling fixed after intervention from UnaBubba].   

       Provided no-one makes a formal declaration of war on pigeons, it's going to work.
calum, Apr 15 2002

       Consider this:   

       1. Bird excrement is rich in nitrates.   

       2. Nitrates are a major ingredient of many explosives.   

       3. I'm really not sure where to go with this.
pottedstu, Apr 15 2002

       Self-exploding pig*eons?
angel, Apr 15 2002

       Welcome to the AGM

Halfbakery Council Notes:
1. Bird excrement is rich in nitrates.
2. Nitrates are a major ingredient of many explosives.
3. drinking water safety regulations identify nitrates as a specifically bad and unnatural substance in groundwater.
Halfbakery Council Believes:
1. Without pigeons, there would be less nitrates around to get into explosives and perpetuate terrorism.
2. Without pigeons, there would be less nitrates getting into groundwater.
3. Assisted extinction of pigeons would thus be good for human health.
Halfbakery Council Resolves:
1. To seek and destroy pigeons at all opportunities
Halfbakery Council Further Resolves:
1. Not to get silly and start a two-week-long glut of not-even-halfbaked pigeon-related ideas.

Votes for the motion?
Votes against the motion?
sappho, Apr 15 2002

       The project I'm currently working on is at Trafalgar Square in London. I think getting rid of all the pigeons there is going to be on the cards at some point, so if there's any good suggestions out there I'll happily pass them on to my boss.
stupop, Apr 15 2002

       Populus (genus)
\Pop"u*lus\, n.: Leaves are usually ovate and long petioled. Twigs are slender to stout and have buds covered with several imbricated scales. Terminal buds are present with the lowest scale of lateral directly above the leaf scar.
phoenix, Apr 16 2002

       My fellow terrans. What we have here is an opportunity once again disguised as a problem--too many pigeons. Let us not despise them for their success, but rather let us be inspired by their abundances. Find ways to harvest: 1) their freely-given plant food (as feces), 2) their natural curiosity and ability to learn, 3) their homing instinct and ability (there is a recent Smithsonian article about a guy in NYC area who's prize racing pigeon broke it's wing some time after release a couple States away, but made it home anyway two weeks late--by walking home), and 4) their hunger and shear numbers.   

       What urban problems can be mitigated or reduced by legions of free-range trained pigeons? They can be taught to make fine distinctions of perception. Let us show them photos of bad people and reward them for inspecting individual humans from above. Give them easy access to simple pigeon reporting areas--on ledges, under bridges--very close to where the pigeon saw a person of interest, so that the pigeon agent may file a timely report (peck as trained) for a tasty reward. No need for video cameras mounted on every post. No need for expensive computer programs that recognize faces. And let us train them to deposit the plant food where we want it, again for that quick, tasty pigeon meal.   

       Isn't it because pigeons cannot talk to us that we despise them? Let us not athropomorphize, but let us instead learn to make reasoned guesses about their capabilities and design processess that mimic the natural but reward the overall urban good, by the new, productive things that these salient beings can do for us.   

       Thank you, and good night.
entremanure, Apr 16 2002

       oh well done, monsieur entremaneur. you forgot the little leather thongs though.
po, Apr 16 2002

       Pop"u*louse That really popular boyfriend in high school who turned out to be a vermin.
bristolz, Apr 16 2002

       Feels somehow calum that you should be explaining this one to Dick Dastardly, while making hooting and whooping noises between each sentence.
Now, what about that medal? (mutley laugh....)
goff, Apr 17 2002


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