Thursday, February 17, 2011
ONLY THE SPYMASTER KNOWS!
Can you tell hummingbirds apart? Which is a male and which is a female? Which is an Allen's and which is a Rufous? No?
Well, you'd better start sharpening your bird-observation skills, because there is a change a'coming and you need to be aware.
According to a delightful story in the morning's business section of the LA Times, a company in nearby Monrovia has developed a new drone for the Pentagon, and since it looks like a hummingbird, flaps its wings like a hummingbird, "hovers and flies sideways, backwards and forward, clockwise and counterclockwise" you might, if your observation is a bit on the rusty side, see it and not recognize it for what it is....a spy drone with a hidden camera.
It doesn't seem likely that you'll find it at your hummingbird feeder but as it continues to be refined in the development process, it WILL be able to fly through open windows and maybe take a peek at what you are doing on the computer. Still, that's on down the road and maybe it won't even be interested in watching you play the next version of Pac Man. But who knows what spies are after, even in your computer room.
The article says "With a wingspan of 6.5 inches, the mini-drone weighs 19 grams, or less than an AA battery. The Hummingbird's guts are made up of motors, communications systems and a video camera. It is slightly larger than the average hummingbird."Aha! It is the fat hummingbirds we need to be on the look for. And the article goes on to make a statement that made me laugh: "Critics have noted that privacy issues may emerge depending on how the drones are used." DUHHHHH!
One little problem is being considered: New York City doesn't have many hummingbirds, so the company's manager says it may have to develop a sparrow for use there. (Can't you just see a hovering sparrow with the talents of a hummer?)
Well, just as drones in my lifetime started as big ones coming over England during the Second World War (no, I wasn't there but I read about them) and now today's drones have changed in configuration, size and purpose, so too do they expect these little miniaturized guys to evolve in as yet unknown directions.
I'm certainly not a techie so I am not all that interested in a spy-bird, but I did have to laugh to myself when I read the article. And you can be sure I'll never again just give a cursory glance at any hummingbirds at my feeder. No, I'll be looking for one on the fat side and who might have little flashes of silver in its wingpits.