It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s—a pigeon with a miniature backpack?

A member of the Pigeon Air Patrol in London // Image via @PigeonAir

A member of the Pigeon Air Patrol in London // Image via @PigeonAir

No, this is not an Onion article. Nor is it an early April Fool’s Day joke. The Pigeon Air Patrol is a thing, and it’s London’s new tactic in monitoring air quality, reports Mashable.

A flock of pigeons equipped with tiny backpacks containing pollution sensors and GPS trackers, aka The Pigeon Air Patrol, was released from a rooftop in east London by expert Brian Woodhouse as part of a project by the marketing agency, DigitasLBI.

Their backpacks were created by air quality start-up Plume Labs and monitor nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and volatile compounds. A vet was on hand to ensure the birds’ welfare.

A number of birds make up the crew: Coco, a “maverick” from south London; Julius from east London; and Norbert from north of the river.

The pigeons’ three-day stint over the city is aimed at drawing attention to the quality of London’s air.

Curious residents (or curious anyone) can tweet to @PigeonAir for a reading around their home or office, and visit the Twitter page for videos, photos, and other updates for a mid-day pick-me-up that only pigeons with miniature backpacks can give.

[H/T Mashable]

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