November 28, 2023
  • Scientists in New Mexico are working to turn taxidermic birds into drones to study flight patterns.
  • For now, the bird drone prototype can fly for a maximum of 20 minutes, scientists told Reuters.
  • The research has no relation to the Gen Z conspiracy that “Birds Aren’t Real,” a project lead told Insider.

The birds aren’t real, but their bodies are. 

A research team in New Mexico is converting taxidermic birds into drones in order to study flight patterns, Reuters reported. 

Mostafa Hassanalian, a mechanical engineering professor leading the project at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro, said the team started looking into deceased birds after mechanical bird drones weren’t yielding good results. 

“We came up with this idea that we can use … dead birds and make them (into) a drone,” Hassanalian, who has extensively studied drones, told Reuters.

“Everything is there,” he added. “We do reverse engineering.”

Scientists hope to use them to study birds’ formations and flight patterns, which can in turn be applied to the aviation industry, Hassanalian told Reuters. 

The taxidermic bird drones are currently being tested at the university in a customized cage, according to the outlet.

“If we learn how these birds manage energy between themselves, we can apply (that) into the future aviation industry to save more energy and save more fuel,” Hassanalian said.

The bird drone prototype can only fly for a maximum of 20 minutes, Hassanalian told Reuters, so scientists will work to develop a drone that can spend more time in the air and perform tests among live birds.

The research also, unwittingly, narrowly aligns with the peculiar Gen Z conspiracy theory that suggests “Birds Aren’t Real.”

Dating back to 2019, the quirky conspiracy suggested that the birds in the sky are artificial, and they’re actually drones put in place by the US government to spy on its citizens. (While the movement’s facetious followers are in on the joke and acknowledge that birds are real animals, the US government does in fact spy on its citizens in other ways.)

In a comment to Insider, Hassanalian said his research was not inspired by the “Birds Aren’t Real” campaign because he had never heard of it prior to his research being published. 

“I actually did not know about the people of ‘The birds aren’t real,'” Hassanalian told Insider. “I found out about them once my story came out for the first time.”