(The Washington Post) – On the eve of the democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas, an underground group calling itself P.U.T.I.N. filled the skies with a flock of protest pigeons, each dressed as a small surrogate for President Trump.
One wore a tiny, coiffed orange wig. The others donned red hats decorated with the president’s campaign call, Make America Great Again. Both were affixed to the pigeons’ heads using eyelash glue.
An email to local media from P.U.T.I.N., an acronym for Pigeons United To Interfere Now and also the last name of Russia’s president, said the project was an “aerial protest piece” that came after months of “exhaustive research, logistical hurdles and pigeon care taking.” The P.U.T.I.N. message was sent anonymously to NBC’s Las Vegas affiliate, Fox 5 KVVU-TV and the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The Washington Post obtained a copy of the announcement.
The self-proclaimed “underground radical group” said in its email that the pigeon project was inspired by Operation Tarcana, a CIA mission conducted during the Cold War 1970s in which cameras were attached to pigeons to spy on the Soviets.
The targets of this pigeon protest are the six Democratic presidential candidates who will be debating Wednesday at 9 p.m. EST in Las Vegas: Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg, former vice president Joe Biden, former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg.
Trump will also be in Las Vegas Wednesday for a planned speech at police department headquarters.
The MAGA hat pigeons come months after cowboy hat pigeons stole the show in Vegas. In December, officials discovered three pigeons with miniature red cowboy hats glued to their heads. One of the pigeons, Bille the Pidge, later died — possibly poisoned from the glue fumes, Lofty Hopes Pigeon Rescue told the Associated Press. Two other pigeons, Cluck Norris and Coolamity Jane, were also given tiny cowboy hats.
Under the condition that their identities would not be revealed, members of P.U.T.I.N. spoke with the Review-Journal, the newspaper reported. The group said they were not responsible for the cowboy hat pigeons.
One member who goes by the alias Coo Hand Luke said the MAGA hat pigeons’ release date was “coordinated to serve as a gesture of support and loyalty to President Trump.”
“P.U.T.I.N. values its cause over celebrity,” the group said, according to the Review-Journal. “The aim of this project is to draw attention to the art and the message, not those behind it.”
The group told the newspaper that it built a clandestine coop for the pigeons where the birds were fed, nursed and decorated. P.U.T.I.N. used Dove soap to wash grease from the pigeons and used eyelash glue to attach their hats and hairpiece.
“It’s what women use to put around their eyes for eyelash extensions. The hats usually stay on for a day or two, depending on the bird’s movements,” Coo Hand Luke told the Review-Journal. “We can also remove them ourselves as they fly back to the coop. They could be gone for a day, two days or a week, but they always come back.”
When the Review-Journal asked if P.U.T.I.N.’s pigeon protest was high art or a stunt, the group told the newspaper it’s mostly satire.