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New Zealand Bird Hoax

Bird Hoax

Imagine seeing a new species of bird, one that had never been seen before. Then, imagine finding out that it was all a hoax.

This is what happened to birders in New Zealand recently, when they thought they had discovered a new, bright red hawk. The birds had first been seen in 2009, and they caused great excitement in the NZ birding community at first.

However, it seems that the birds were actually spray painted. What kind of a person would catch and spray paint birds, just to perpetuate a hoax on naive birders?

His name is Grant Teahan, and he is a dairy farmer Down Under, when not painting birds. Apparently, Mr. Teahan thought the whole thing was kind of funny. The animal rights folks did not, and he will be heavily fined.

Looking at the pictures of these birds, I wonder how anyone could have thought this was a real bird, even for a minute. Birds of prey do not come in these colors. In fact, few birds in general are bright pink or purple, certainly not many outside of tropical areas. Reddish brown, like a robinís breast, yes; and of course, there are a few songbirds, like house finches or cardinals that are bright red. But even they are not the color of prom gowns.

Also, new species do not just magically appear out of thin air. It would take hundreds, if not thousands or millions of years for a new specie to evolve. This is why the theory of evolution remains controversial, to some extent (besides religious objections). Nobody can see it happening in most cases, it takes too long.

Mr. Teahan also sprayed ďMerry ChristmasĒ on a cow. Itís possible that he just enjoys painting animals for some reason (donít ask me what that reason could be, though. Iím not a psychiatrist).

But I think there is something more sinister afoot. I suspect that he is a birder bully. The image of a birder or birdwatcher is almost identical to the image of a nerd. Except that nerds are now considered computer geniuses (read: very rich). Since birders donít make money birding, their image has never been gentrified.

I suspect that Mr. T. may have thought it would be funny to get a bunch of dorks excited over something that only they would like (a new bird specie), and laugh at them behind their backs. I donít know this for a fact, of course. But I suspect.

Badly done, Grant Teahan! Thereís a reason they lock up the spray paint at the hardware and craft stores, and itís because of people like you!


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