Birds of April Fool's Day
132 plastic lawn geese, dressed in various outfits, appeared around Portage, Wisconsin on April 1st. The perpetrator of this prank is unknown, but the geese cost around $30 each. So whoever did it spent almost $4000 to do so — unless they got a volume discount on the geese. [wiscnews.com
The BBC announced that camera crews filming near the Antarctic for its natural history series Miracles of Evolution
had captured footage of Adélie penguins taking to the air. It even offered a video clip
of these flying penguins, which became one of the most viewed videos on the internet. Presenter Terry Jones explained that, instead of huddling together to endure the Antarctic winter, these penguins took to the air and flew thousands of miles to the rainforests of South America where they "spend the winter basking in the tropical sun." A follow-up video
explained how the BBC created the special effects of the flying penguins.
ran a photo of a penguin wandering along the banks of the Thames. "It is believed to be the first time a penguin has been spotted in the Thames and comes weeks after tragic Wally the Whale got stranded... Experts said the penguin, normally seen at the South Pole, may have been released into UK waters by fishermen who accidentally snared him... Marine biologist Lil Faroop said: 'It looks like a Jackass. They feed on sprats and fly through the water at five miles (eight kilometres) per hour. They have a donkey-like bray.'"
Tokyo's Ueno Zoo announced in a press release that it had discovered a remarkable new species of penguin: A giant penguin called the Tonosama (Lord) Penguin, 165cm-tall and weighing 80kg. Its favorite food was said to be "white fish meat with soy sauce." The giant penguin was revealed to the public on April 1. It was reported that
: "As the cameras rolled, the real penguins rose their beaks and gazed up at the purported Lord - but then walked away disinterested when he took off his penguin face to reveal himself to be zoo director Teruyuki Komiya."
British Waterways released a study claiming that a study conducted by Dr. Olaf Priol had found that ducks who lived on canals weighed, on average, a pound more than ducks who lived on rivers. The slow-moving canal water apparently provided the ducks with less opportunity for exercise, and so they gained weight. The study had an embargo date of April 1st (meaning that the media was not supposed to make it public until then), but the BBC, believing the study to be real, broke the embargo and discussed it earlier.
reported that hawks outfitted with miniature cameras would be used to catch speeding drivers:
They will swoop on vehicles and film them with strapped-on mini cameras developed by the BBC for wildlife programmes. Officers watching monitors will see a speed readout --and even registration numbers and tax discs. The Hawkeye system has had successful trials on the M40 in Oxfordshire, where PCs Mark Dalton and Otto Hergt put two birds through their paces… Paolo Firl, of the Italian makers, said: 'We are very pleased. We have shown it can be done.' But motorist Andy Pinder, 45, said: 'We're already persecuted, now we're being hunted.'
Google revealed the secret at the heart of its search technology: PigeonRank
. Clusters of pigeons had apparently been trained to compute the relative values of web pages:
PigeonRank's success relies primarily on the superior trainability of the domestic pigeon (Columba livia) and its unique capacity to recognize objects regardless of spatial orientation… By collecting flocks of pigeons in dense clusters, Google is able to process search queries at speeds superior to traditional search engines, which typically rely on birds of prey, brooding hens or slow-moving waterfowl to do their relevance rankings. When a search query is submitted to Google, it is routed to a data coop where monitors flash result pages at blazing speeds. When a relevant result is observed by one of the pigeons in the cluster, it strikes a rubber-coated steel bar with its beak, which assigns the page a PigeonRank value of one. For each peck, the PigeonRank increases. Those pages receiving the most pecks, are returned at the top of the user's results page with the other results displayed in pecking order.
The Sunday News-Journal
in Daytona Beach reported the discovery of a talking pelican. The pelican was found by a Georgia tourist, Sam P. Suggins, when the pelican asked Suggins for fish as he was walking along a dock. Unfortunately the pelican would not talk to anyone else. Nor was it very bright, as Suggins remarked that it said “Kitty” while looking at a small dog. The article noted that there have been recorded instances of sailors teaching pelicans to speak, just as parrots can be taught to speak, and theorized that this must have been such a case.