What do birds do when I can’t see them? Fuck you, the question is moot


I should warn you that the footage of a cat looking into the My Spy Birdhouse at 1:20 of this video is, as the disclaimer plainly indicates, a dramatization. That cat did not actually become fascinated by a birdhouse with no back wall suction-cupped to the window. That cat isn’t even alive. He was rendered from a composite of several other successful advertising cats, now dead, and added during post-pro. We never figured out how to keep a real cat alive for more than a few days, because we had no idea what they were doing when we couldn’t see them. It’s too late for cats, but birds—oh, birds. Their secret life is fucking over.

Everybody loves watching birds, from children to the elderly to our dramatic imaginings of cats. But who can see birds all the time? Not the millions of benighted souls born and dead before the My Spy Birdhouse was invented, whose “lives” were charades of paranoid ignorance. Where do birds go at night? What do they do when I can’t see them? Why is my child coughing? For millions of years, humanity had no answers to these questions. Our forebears understood the world and all birds in it as fonts of terror.

The whole deal with birds is they can fly. You can look at them for a while, but then they take off. Why can’t you see the bird after it starts flying? It is too far away. Can another person who is also far away see that bird, rendering the question of what it is doing at least theoretically answerable? No. It is behind something opaque. Human knowledge is fucking beggared, as far as that bird is concerned. It could be doing anything.

In general, when birds fly away they go to nests. Often, when they are flying around, they are looking for materials to build these nests, such as hair and sticks, but this knowledge is only statistical. Many birds are looking for sticks. Birds generally are building nests. But the individual bird? Who knows what the fuck he is doing, once he gets out of your field of vision.

He could be shaking really fast and then looking around, or pecking a root. Our understanding of birds is like our understanding of quantum events: accurate as a statistical distribution describing millions, but useless in the individual case. The problem is that the act of observation changes the bird observed. What is the bird doing when we climb a tree and look inside his nest? Freaking out. What are birds doing in the moments before we can see them? Getting ready to fly away.

The My Spy Birdhouse solves that problem so we can finally know something. The trick is the crystal-clear acrylic window, which you stick up against your regular window in such a way that there are two windows between you and the birds. Premodern birdhouses had another wall instead of a crystal-clear acrylic window. You could stick them to your window, but the wood was opaque, so the birds would be in there doing god knows what.

Other birdhouses had no back wall and were not attached to a window pane, so the bird would just fly through the hole into your house. You knew what it was doing, but what it was doing sucked. It was the observation problem all over again: all we ever saw birds do was knock over curios and walk on pillowcases.

All that bullshit is fucking over, thanks to the My Spy Birdhouse. The crystal-clear acrylic window means you can see the birds all the time, but they can never see you. Watch them preen and speak English in the illusory comfort of their own home. Put your face right up against the window while they’re mating. They will never know, but you will. You will know exactly what birds are doing, all the time. You can finally sleep.

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  1. Words like fonts and beggared help me laugh at words like fuck and fucking.

    Halfway through I realized you could have been paid to write this post, and that I didn’t care. Advertising is content. Content is advertising.

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