It was in the early morning of February 1972 when the startling
discovery was made.
Newington, New Hampshire is the home of Simplex Wire and Cable
producers of most of the underwater communications cables used throughout the world. As the cable speeds
off the production line it is coiled in huge steel tubs for storage. 'l'he tubs are then stored in a large warehouse on the
property until the contracted quantity is assembled for loading on a cable laying ship. Each ship is capable of
carrying many miles of cable.
As dawn broke over the Piscataqua River an alert security guard on his
morning rounds, observed that resident pigeons in the warehouse were utilizing the stored tubs of cables as a handy depository,
as they clustered on the rafters high overhead. The guard included this observed desecration of high quality cables
in his morning report. Coincidently, several weeks earlier a resident Government Inspector at Simplex had generated a
"Quality Deficiency Report" detailing an apparent cosmetic deterioration he had frequently observed on the exterior protective
jacket of the cable. The government representative reported that he suspected the observed cosmetic blemishes to be due to
some type of chemical reaction. He requested a full investigation as to cause and to corrective action.
The company quality control statistical computer matched up these two apparently unrelated observations and
automatically generated an "Urgent Quality Alert". Upon receipt of the "Urgent Quality Alert" notification, Engineering
Manager, Norman McNerney, immediately assembled a team of specialists and launched an intensive investigation to determine
if the two incidents were related.
An around the clock effort by McNerney's team resulted in a finding
that the pigeon droppings were indeed responsible for the chemical blemishes of the exterior
Mr. McNerney's team of engineers were next assigned the responsibility
for getting rid of the warchouse pigeons. Initially, a newly marketed noise generator was purchased from the
German firm of SCREECHUND SPEAKER ELECTRONICS. The generator, marketed under the name of 'Grossen Louden Screecher",
was installed in the warehouse, and emitted nerve-jangling, ear-piercing noises 24 hours per day at a level of 1.50 db, which
is well above the pain threshold of hwnan hearing. The pigeons, though mildly irritated at first, held tenaciously to
their lofty perches. this was not true of the local townspeople however, who bombarded Simplex management with everything
from nasty criticisms to vulgar threats of bodily harm (including suggestions as to what orifice of their bodies the noise
generator might be justifiably inserted into in the interest of noise abatement.) 'l'he noise generator method was swiftly
abandoned at the insistence of upper management.
Undaunted, McNerney and his team pressed on; this time attempting
to poison the pigeons by dispensing poisoned bait around the warehouse. The pigeons, with obvious disdain at this ancient
technique, avoided the poisoned bait with contemptuous pride The local seagulls however, found the tainted bait
much to their liking; in fact consumed it like a rare delicacy. It was later learned that the particular poison
selected by McNerney's team actually acted as an aphrodisiac when consumed by seagulls. Seagulls flew from miles around, and
swarmed above the Simplex warehouse. Within hours, seagulls were beating their way to Newington from as far away
as New York City to the south and Machiasport, Maine to the north. Observers on the scene testified later that the sun was
was eclipsed for a fifteen minute period around noon by swarming seagulls overhead. McNerney and his dedicated
team braved the wrath of the gulls, and beat a path to the warehouse, managing -at risk of life and limb -to close the warehouse
doors and windows behind them. The ravished gulls outside, now worked up into feeding frenzy, attacked the warehouse roof
-attempting to tear off the roof shingles to gain access to the prized tidbits within. Under the frantic seagull attack, a
section of the roof eventually collapsed , allowing access to the gulls, who escaped with the bait and fought over each and
every peice with the massed hordes on the roof. To this day, Newington remains the only site of an observed seagull
orgy ever witnessed in the contincntal United States.
Through all of the noise and confusion, though mildly disturbed, the
warehouse pigeons clung to their lofty perches. McNerney, and his team were treated for bruises and contusions and released
from the Portsmouth Hospital that same evening. (The Manufacturing Manager claimed he had been sexually assaulted by an overly
amorous seagull, but it was never verified. He later settled out of court with Simplex and retired to Wichita, Kansas, 1200
miles from any known seagull gathering place.)
Understandably, the poisoned bait technique was hastily abandoned,
at the urgent request of upper management. The McNerney team organized an intense efi'ort to seek the opinion and advice
of prominent bird experts throughout the country relative to the best method to rid the warehouse of the resident pigeons.
Professor Reginald A. Swanpecker, North American bird expert
at the University of NH's Zoological Department was approached by the Simplex team. Prof. Swanpecker advised that the
solution was very simple and inexpensive. He informed the Simplex team that pigeons were deathly afraid of owls
and suggested that: they purchase one immediately for the warehouse to frighten the pigeons away. He further suggested that
his personal preference for this task would be the Great Horned Owl, noted for it's ferocity of attack, and it's insatiable
appetite for pigeon meat.
Simplex purchased the owl and tethered it to the main entrance to the warehouse.
The pigeons disappeared overnight! However, several days later, a security guard reported that the
owl had freed itself and had taken roost on the rooftop. The guard's report further stated that the owl was fraternizing
with the local pigeons. Within days, the owl, and several hundred pigeons had returned to their favorite perches
inside the warehouse, where the fraternizing continued.
Within a few months, strange and bewildering activities occurred in the warehouse -broken windows, damaged
cables, small brown pellets of an extremely hard substance were found scattered throughout the warehouse and strange looking
birds were found laying dead in various locations. Simplex personnel entering the warehouse in those days were bombarded from
above with the pellets, some were attacked by these strange dive-bombing birds. Several Simplex warehouse workers were
admitted to Exeter Hospital with severe lacerations about their heads and necks. Simplex immediately required that all
personnel entering the warehouse must wear hard hats. Professor Swampecker was again contacted and requested to investigate
the strange happenings at Simplex Company. Professor Swanpecker immediately launched an intense investigation which
included both field and Laboratory studies; the following is a summary of his findings:
1. Due to ineffective communications and administrative foul-ups at Simplex, the Fish and Game Breeding
Station in Colorado had sent a HORNEY OWL instead of a Horned 0wl. (It seems this particular Owl had been deprived of
female companionship for well over a year as part of an experiment that was in process in Colorado).
2. The Horney
Owl mated with the local pigeons and produced a crossbred offspring which shall henceforth be referred to as a Pijowl.
3. The hard pellets being rained upon Simplex heads were found to be Pijowl excrement.
4. The reason for the dive bombing attacks appears to be caused by constant irritability due to:
A- The pigeon is active only during the daytime, while owls are nocturnal animals. The Pijowl, therefore,
is cursed with constant activity day and night, and, only rests for 2 brief minute periods, one at twilight and one just before
B- The owl eats only meat, while the pigeon eats exclusively, grain. So, no matter what the Pijowl eats, it's
hybrid digestive system causes indigestion and chronic constipation.
C- Due to it's constant constipation, Pijowl pellets are very hard. Further, extensive investigation revealed
that Pijowl pellets averaged 5mm in diameter, while the Pijowl's rectal orifice will only expand to a diameter of 3mm, due
to restrictive rectoral muscles, thus, the necessity for diving ~the bird executes a power dive from great heights, and pulls
out of this dive abruptly, while simultaneously performing a forward tumble, thus creating a gravitational force of 7 G's
at the apogee of the tumble. These centrifigal forces dilate the pectoral muscles sufficiently to allow this powerful
bird to expel it's pellet with great force. (the rectal velocity of the Pijowl under these condtions has been measured at
1000/ft per second, approaching the speed of a rifle bullet.
D- Unlike most birds, the Pijowl's beak curves upward, causing it added frustration:
1- If feeding
on the ground, it must lay on it's back and grovel forward by kicking its feet and rotating it's tail.
2- If feeding
in flight, they must fly upside down, thus restricting their forward visibility -resulting in frequent collisions with
walls, trees, roofs and other Pijowls.
With the heartbreaking findings of this extensive study, The Royal Society Bridge Club feels this bird is
one of the world's most misunderstood animals. In tribute to this gallant and oppressed bird, The Widow
Fletcher's Tavern was asked to memorialize the poor Pijowl by dedicating the newly added front porch room in honor of
the Pijowl, and to finally elevate this endangered bird to the position of respect it so richly deserves. To celebrate
this dedication, Parker Ryan and Ron Boucher, at great expense, commissioned the noted wildlife artist Hubert S. Bushpucker
to render a commemorative painting of the ill-fated Pijowl.
Return to RSBC News Facts