Or, to be more accurate, they have been using so-called "sex hats" to breed falcons. Are there better, less awkward solutions? Yeah, now. But back in the days of severe endangerment for some falcon breeds, those hats were the thing that stood between them and extinction. Sure, it's odd and kind of funny to think that 'sex hats saved a species – but still true!
Of course, that hasn't stopped the internet from going bananas over this revelation. Apparently, conservation biologists have been pretty good at keeping their unorthodox tools under wraps. But one Twitter account sent out a "true fact of the day," and then all of the Twitterverse was reeling from the discovery. So let's see what they're saying – and discover how, exactly, these strange hats became falcons' salvation!
Animal breeding isn't a new concept.And we know that scientists will come up with breeding techniques to facilitate the re-growth of an endangered species.
So, here's the deal:
TRUE FACT OF THE DAY: When falcon breeders want to breed falcons, they wear special falcon sex hats. The hat encour… https://t.co/Nft7tsnnq9— RedScharlach (@RedScharlach)1550592651.0
Think about it.That hat is the only thing standing between a humping falcon and someone's head.
So, this begs several questions.
@redfacts @icequeensansa But is there a specific reason for it being on their head rather than literally anywhere else— Kennedy Cannon (@Kennedy Cannon)1550597268.0
Like...maybe the floor?
@redfacts Why would they not just put the hat on the floor please?— Michael Bushell (@Michael Bushell)1550593855.0
Speaking of, why are the breeding tools *hats*?
@MichaelDBee @redfacts Why does it have to be a hat in the first place? (It's possible the article answers these… https://t.co/oZ3zHgcJj5— Shanty Retweeter (@Shanty Retweeter)1550594343.0
Some people tried to guess.
@ken_you_not @redfacts @icequeensansa I'm going to guess it's because the falcons have been trained to come (oh dea… https://t.co/0DL4w2b5hN— Auntie Deb (@Auntie Deb)1550603243.0
For the answer, we refer to the EarthTouch News Network.In this case, clicking the link is quite informative. Turns out, the falcon sex-hat (typing that will never be not weird) goes back all the way to the 1970s.
The hats have stuck around because they're effective.Falconer Les Boyd invented the hat early in the '70s, as a sperm collection device that lets captive falcons mate with their keepers.
Yeah, that doesn't sound great.But, for all the strangeness, it's been instrumental in bringing some species of bird back from the brink of extinction.
For example, North America is home to the peregrine falcon.Many living in North America are familiar with the bird. And now, you know that peregrine falcons are alive today because they were presented with a copulation hat and went to town.
Not so long ago, things were looking dire for the peregrine.Back the Boyd first finished his invention, widespread use of a pesticide called DDT had nearly wiped peregrines out in the United States.
The numbers were grim:
via: GettyThe western population of peregrine falcons had fallen from around 4,000 breeding pairs to 324. That's just 0.08% remaining from the original numbers.
And now, things are much different.The peregrine falcon has now spread in population to almost every continent, saved by the falcon breeding effort.
With the hats, breeding is actually simplified.All that's needed is a male peregrine, a special hat, and a breeder who knows how to mimic a peregrine mating call.
Take it from Boyd.
via: Getty"Learning to mimic the falcon’s vocalizations is the most direct approach in accomplishing cooperative artificial insemination," he explained.
And for all its strangeness, those hats save some trouble.
via: Getty"The first bird I hatched using it was in 1975," Boyd said. "But I'd started trying years before. [Early versions of] the hat needed to be chin-strapped down tight before the male landed on it. Actually, one of the simplest ways to get the male to copulate was on the back of one's hand."
So, here's why the hat part is necessary.Captive breeding seemed the most logical way to ensure success when trying to save the species. The only problem was that, when raised in captivity, the peregrine hatchlings would imprint.
Imprinting confused the birds a bit.
via: GettyBirds visually imprint when they're very young, and that's where they gain their "sense of species." When they first hatch from the egg, a falcon imprints on the first living thing it sees. If that thing is a human...that's what the falcon sees as a parent. And later, that's what they expect in a mate.
Basically, they weren't interested in other falcons.By the time they became mature enough to mate, the Falcons had become so accustomed to humans that they weren't naturally mating with each other.
Thus, the insemination hat.The falcons are coming to the person as much as the hat; the hat is just a mode of collection.
According to Boyd, imprinting smooths the process now."The imprinted males were extremely easy to work with," explains Boyd. "Once the semen was on the hat, it could be easily pulled into a syringe, and imprinted females would stand for semen deposit. It was incredibly simple."
So there's the science of it.But this is the internet, so of course, a ton of sex-hat jokes ensued.
Queue the "Milkshake" rewrite!
@redfacts @GreatDismal "My Falcon Sex Hat brings all the birds to the yard..."— Bad! Brian Bad! (@Bad! Brian Bad!)1550604058.0
When one tweet transforms your Twitter:
My twitter avatar taking on a whole new energy https://t.co/KHM1eXEfH5— Sarah Dollard (@Sarah Dollard)1550592815.0
New band name!
The 90s had the alt rock group, Death Cab for Cutie. I think it's time for a new group, Sex Hat for Falcon. https://t.co/FyC09xu80E— Hil.i.am (@Hil.i.am)1550597505.0
In fact, a LOT of people saw the tweet and thought 'fun band name!'
@redfacts "Good evening, Wembley. We are FALCON SEX HAT" *Power chord* *flute solo* *Pyrotechnics*— M.C.Hawk 🥓☕🌈⚥ (@M.C.Hawk 🥓☕🌈⚥)1550596160.0
Never mind, OP's got this.
A lot of people have said "band name!" but personally I'm working up a blockbuster movie pitch about louchely charm… https://t.co/dF1appYmj1— RedScharlach (@RedScharlach)1550604638.0
And yes, these hats are very easy to get your hands on.
ALSO TRUE FACT: If you want your own falcon sex hat, you can buy one from Amazon. A snip at £155. Falcon jizz not i… https://t.co/zsSeA3lWyY— RedScharlach (@RedScharlach)1550592777.0
And in case you're still attached to the band idea...
By the way, if you want to sing about falcon sex hats, my recommended tune is Crazy Horses by the Osmonds. 🎶 FAL-c… https://t.co/lXTwiabyLC— RedScharlach (@RedScharlach)1550665594.0