Living in the worst possible timeline means that each week invites a new, unbearably dumb viral sensation. This week, it’s pigeons in tiny hats. And reader, while it pains me to spoil the novelty of birds in miniature clothing, whoever is doing this should feel terrible.
Reports of pigeons spotted on the streets of Las Vegas in tiny hats began surfacing last week. A close inspection of a handful of viral videos and images of the birds seemed to show that in order to stay in place on their heads, the hats were fixed with some sort of adhesive. And when considering that someone presumably captured the birds to physically affix objects to them in a way that’s meant to be semi-permanent, the prank devolves from quirky and almost charming to a disgusting display of ghoulish barbarity.
Mariah Hillman, who runs a Nevada-based dove and pigeon rescue nonprofit called Lofty Hopes and has captured two of the hat-donning birds, told the Washington Post that she witnessed one pigeon “shaking his head, trying to get the hat off. It’s definitely glue.”
“We either have to molt it off, which will take time, or have it removed,” Hillman told the Post, adding that using oil is the only thing that won’t harm the birds in the process.
Regardless of anyone’s personal feelings about pigeons, gluing objects to animals is a form of abuse. It’s clear that whoever is doing this is doing so for virality—multiple pigeons have been spotted with the hats in the Las Vegas area, and Hillman told the Post that Lofty Hopes has received multiple leads each day since initially being notified about the birds last week. The big question mark here, though, is what specific kind of asshole is capturing the birds, gluing hats on their heads, and releasing them.
How long will it be until the hat-wearing pigeons start trying to sell us shit, such as with nearly every other viral meme—from the Instagram egg to Baby Yoda? The reality is that viral antics and memes are often translatable to real, honest-to-god money. It’s not hard to imagine this incident being some kind of poorly thought-out corporate plug, as companies have definitely botched viral marketing on more than a couple of occasions. It’s also not hard to imagine this being the handwork of some kind of some idiot prankster or misguided performance artist. The clear difference here is that this incredibly stupid stunt is abusive.
Hillman put it best in an interview with the New York Times. People, she said, “basically just need to keep their hands off animals.” And whoever is gluing miniature hats—or anything, really—on these birds should feel bad. And we should all feel bad for thinking it’s cute.