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Fowl Play: The Threat of Birds


Quack Attack

As we saw on January 15, a few stupid goddamn geese can bring down a 100-ton commercial jet. But the Miracle on the Hudson wasn’t the first down-feathered disaster. High-altitude splats cost U.S. aviators $600 million a year in damages and have resulted in more than 160 injuries and 11 deaths since 1990. We say fight these terrorists: Eat foie gras!

One Flu Over the Cuckoo Nest
Since 2003 diseased poultry has infected 399 people with the avian flu virus, killing 252. According to the World Health Organization, there is a “substantial risk” that it will develop into a human-to-human virus that could kill 71 million people and—gasp!—shut down KFC.

Clap On!
Some pet birds provide companionship. Others—particularly parrots, parakeets, macaws, and cockatiels—provide Chlamydia psittacosis, a strain of the clap. There are 50 reported cases a year and just as many incredulous partners: “But, honey, I swear, the bird gave it to me!”

Pecking Orders
Random bird attacks have been on the rise. This past June residents in Chicago were warned to beware of batty blackbirds dive-bombing pedestrians. (Oprah, if you are reading this, please write and tell us if Stedman is OK.)

Flocking With Your Head
You can run so far away, but this hairdo will find you in your nightmares.