Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Exploding Birds

http://www.smh.com.au/column8/

Sydney Morning Herald
30 Aug 2007

Column 8

"All this talk of flatulent sparrows reminds me of a tall tale I heard whilst residing in London," relates a sceptical David Strong, of Rozelle. "It concerns the pigeons familiar to visitors to Trafalgar Square, and a means of controlling their number by feeding them breadcrumbs laced with baking powder. Urban legend has it that, having eaten the breadcrumb and baking powder mixture, a vigorous reaction occurs within the birds' digestive tracts, causing them to explode. I confess to not having verified this, perhaps other readers have?"

http://www.smh.com.au/column8/

Sydney Morning Herald
1 Sept 2007

Column 8

[...] Ashfield's Matt Sheumack has invented a fine term, "pyroornithology", in response to Thursday's item on exploding pigeons, but has bad news (unless, of course, you're a pigeon): "In response to David Strong's pyro-ornithological query: No, baking powder will not make a pigeon explode; nor will rice, nor Alka-Seltzer. Birds, despite the myths, are able to burp excessive gas. If you want an explosion, try feeding them calcium carbide near a naked flame (produces acetylene gas in stomach acid) or magnesium silicide (releases silane, which reacts explosively with oxygen).

R.G. Orr, of Ramsgate, suggests another possibility. "I have been told that a seagull in a chip feeding frenzy eating a small piece of a mothball will also explode," he writes. "I've never had a mothball with me at the beach to check if it is true." [...]