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Moonraker

Parrots on the Eiffel Tower

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Adrian Roberts
Adrian Roberts, on 17 March 2011 - 01:05 AM, said:

If they were going to use parrots or any other creature for this, wouldn't it have been better to position them some miles to the West of Paris, and not necessarily high up?

Erm wouldn't to the East be better?

Oops... well, I always wanted to be a pilot, not a navigator!

The old 180-degree compass error! :wacko:

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peterhogg

You're forgetting that parrots can talk.

Tom

Actually they can mimic the human voice and other sounds but that's not the same as "talking" in the sense of expressing a thought through an appropriate and pertinent word or phrase. My friend has one of these and in his words, "they never seem to shut up and they never seem to die". At any rate, I just don't see how you would know a parrot is warning of approaching enemy planes and not asking for a cracker.

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CGM

Trying not to move to far off off topic, parrots use words by association, so they could be taught to use words appropriate to the situation, but only if the situation (i.e. aircraft approaching ) happened often enough for the words to be taught by repetition (They're coming! They're coming! although in French, obviously).

My indoor parrot frequently surprises us with phrases we haven't taught him but are appropriate to the situation. These are phrases he never uses out of context but they are all situations which happen frequently and he has picked them up himself.

Just to give one example, if I raise my voice to call from one room to another, recently the parrot has started shouting "pardon" back. This is a word he now hears frequently but I hadn't realised this until he drew it to my attention. Time to send my ageing husband for a hearing test.

:rolleyes:

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Moonraker

... it's said that Britain used blind people to detect enemy aircraft because their hearing was more acute than sighted men and women.

Moonraker

Minor coincidence: there's a small news item in today's Daily Telegraph reporting on research at Montreal University that concluded that loss of sight can improve hearing.

Moonraker

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centurion

Minor coincidence: there's a small news item in today's Daily Telegraph reporting on research at Montreal University that concluded that loss of sight can improve hearing.

Moonraker

Definitely an igNobel candidate. That's been known for centuries.

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SiegeGunner

Does that mean that blind parrots would have been better at detecting German aircraft?

I wonder how a deceased parrot would have fared ... :whistle:

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Pete1052

During our Civil War the U.S. Army had Parrott Rifles, such as this 20-pounder. However I don't think any were in the Eiffel Tower.

20pdr_parrott.jpg

Even in the mid-19th century America was challenging the technological and intellectual prowess of Europe. The European presumption of superiority is a given, something Americans have to get used to.

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centurion

I wonder how a deceased parrot would have fared ... :whistle:

Some of the first sound mirrors were polly-gone-al

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nils d

If they were going to use parrots or any other creature for this, wouldn't it have been better to position them some miles to the West of Paris, and not necessarily high up?

a "bon mot" if ever l heard one.This is Monty Python territory isnt it?

Mind you parrots can hear sounds beyond the range of the human ear.One parrot could hear the noise of a TV remote control so could repeat it

changing stations at will!

:lol:

How long did it take the frustrated owner to figure that one out?

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centurion

a "bon mot" if ever l heard one.This is Monty Python territory isnt it?

Mind you parrots can hear sounds beyond the range of the human ear.One parrot could hear the noise of a TV remote control so could repeat it

changing stations at will!

:lol:

How long did it take the frustrated owner to figure that one out?

Given that remotes use infra red it must have been a very clever parrot.

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nils d

Given that remotes use infra red it must have been a very clever parrot.

which brings us back to detecting Gothas.They MUST be clever birds if they can change channels , use infra-red and detect enemy aircraft.

The clincher here Centurion is that the parrots gave the warning in French ,something l cant do myself ,so they must be dammed clever birds!

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squirrel

Qui est un joli garçon, alors?

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centurion

which brings us back to detecting Gothas.They MUST be clever birds if they can change channels , use infra-red and detect enemy aircraft.

The clincher here Centurion is that the parrots gave the warning in French ,something l cant do myself ,so they must be dammed clever birds!

If, as has been said, the Parrots, were only used in the early years then they must have also been prescient to detect Gothas

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Martin Bennitt

if parrots were trained by being made to listen to the sound of aircraft, would they not then have imitated that sound when no planes were around, causing considerable confusion?

sounds like a myth to me, but myths often have a grain of truth or explanation somewhere

cheers Martin B

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centurion

All of this appears to be based on the assumption that the tower was a look out post but from the very begining of the war it was a radio station and intelligence centre.

A code system was vital to secure wireless transmission. All the major powers began to develop code systems whilst at the same time listening to each other’s transmissions and attempting to break their codes. Networks of listening stations were established, perhaps the most elaborate being that established by the French under the command of a Commandant Cartier with some very tall masts (the Eiffel Tower being pressed into service to provide one of these). This allowed even relatively small transmitters in Germany to be picked up and their position triangulated and plotted. Even without breaking codes this could provide the Allies with valuable information. France created a special unit, the 8e Régiment de Transmissions, for just this work. Working under Cartier its HQ was the Eiffel Tower. Every operator tapping in Morse signals had their own style or ‘fist’ by which he could be ‘identified’ even when transmitting coded messages (although the French did experiment with a Morse key that used an oil filled relay to smooth out the operator’s own rhythm). If an operator who had been previously identified as being part of the HQ of a particular military unit was detected transmitting from a new location then this would suggest that the unit had also relocated. The volume of signal traffic and any changes in this could reveal a unit held in reserve being brought up to strength and preparing for battle. The collection and analysis of such data is today referred to as ELINT (ELectronic INTelligence). As early as the beginning of 1915 Cartier could give the French High-Command a complete organisation chart of the German armies, corps and cavalry divisions.

It was also used for electronic counter measures, for example fooling the German Zeppelin navigators who used the tower's signals as a location (and causing the loss of a number of airships). All of this was for obvious reasons kept secret and not any Tomas, Ricard or Henri would be allowed in or on the tower.

One possibility is that, before the days of the suppressor, aircraft engines were particularly noisy in radio terms and this was being used ina number of locations as a means of non directional early warning. Possibly the story of the parrots was introduced to conceal this (just as in WW2 pilots eating carrots was used as a cover for airborne radar).

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Steven Broomfield

So the parrots were operating Morse Code transmitters?

Who's a clever boy, then?

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peterhogg

They are an Enigma-tic species. My friend's parrot had no knowledge of this story but offered this. ( I admit it's pretty speculative) Since there were likely more conventional methods of spotting aircraft other than using parrots, he wondered if the origins of this story don't actually involve parrots or perroquets. Perhaps there were human spotters in the Eiffel Tower who attained the nickname of parrots. In French, and noting that French humour is err differently-abled, maybe this is side-splitting stuff? I have no source to back this up, but neither have I found a source for the avian-oriented version either

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Steven Broomfield

Maybe the onset of the war had caused hardship for the Parisian troubador community, and the word parrots was actually a mis-hearing of pierrots, a group well-known for the supreme listening skills?

I confess I'm sruggling to see where all the Columbines went (the Harlequins having, no doubt, signed up with the 7th Bedfords).

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centurion

Perhaps there were human spotters in the Eiffel Tower who attained the nickname of parrots.

The tower is not where one would put spotters. The limitations of air craft detection at the time meant that spotters were placed as close to the first point at which incoming aircraft could be detected (by sound or eye) so as to give as much warning as possible to one's fighter squadrons to scramble and AA batteries to be on the alert. Putting the spotters in the middle of the target would be, to use some Lancashire technical words "just plane daft" as, parrot or no parrot, by the time incoming aircraft were detected it would be much too late to avoid them bombing. You don't put your sentries in the middle of the camp you post them round the outside, the same applied to aircraft spotters.

The tower first became a centre for military wireless technology in 1909 just before it was due to be dismantled. In 1903 Gustave Eiffel had suggested to Captain Gustave Ferrié, who was responsible for investigating possible military applications for wireless transmission that the Tower would provide an admirable base for this and volunteered to provide funding. Captain Ferrié received permission from the Department of Military Engineering to install antennas on the Tower. By 1909 the principle was proven and a semi secret underground military radio telegraphy station was built. The concession for the tower was renewed. By 1913 transatlantic communications were established and also with French naval ships as far as 3,750 miles away.

Code breaking was established at the station and in 1914 this detected that General Von Marwitz was temporarily halting his advance at the Marne and this initiated the famous Taxis de la Marne. At the same time the range and power of the station proved crucial in coordinating the French counter attack. As a result the concession for the Tower was once again renewed in perpetuity. It became a victorious icon of the battle.

The duties of the Tower in WW1 included:

Radio transmission to the Front and to most of the French possessions overseas

ELINT monitoring German army wireless communications

Detection of transmissions from German agents in France

Monitoring of German transmissions from neutral countries

Jamming German transmissions

Deception and spoofing transmissions

Receiving and disseminating reports from aircraft spotters located around France

Aircraft detection through the wireless noise generated by their engines

One could say that it became the French WW1 equivalent of GCHQ - all sorts of cover stories were generated to conceal these activities (I think the Parrots are probably one of these - its about as sensible as the WW2 ones that RAF night fighter pilots were successful because they ate raw carrots).

There seems to be no reliable evidence that it was actually used for aircraft spotting. The only non wireless activity appears to have been the installation of meteorological instruments high up in the structure.

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peterhogg

Maybe the onset of the war had caused hardship for the Parisian troubador community, and the word parrots was actually a mis-hearing of pierrots, a group well-known for the supreme listening skills?

I confess I'm sruggling to see where all the Columbines went (the Harlequins having, no doubt, signed up with the 7th Bedfords).

Sadly, the pierrot contribution to the The Great War remains an unwritten chapter, notwithstanding their innovative camouflage smocks and face-paint. Likewise, their sister regiment, the Paris mimes, known colloquially as Les Freres de Marceau, who, it is said never cried out in pain, even when injured. Sorry, where were we? Spotter parrots in the the Eiffel Tower a daft plan? Sounds made up.

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4thGordons

Sadly, the pierrot contribution to the The Great War remains an unwritten chapter, notwithstanding their innovative camouflage smocks and face-paint. Likewise, their sister regiment, the Paris mimes, known colloquially as Les Freres de Marceau, who, it is said never cried out in pain, even when injured. Sorry, where were we? Spotter parrots in the the Eiffel Tower a daft plan? Sounds made up.

Oh no it's not unwritten! (well at least not unpictured!)

These are members of "THE BALMORALS" a pierrot troupe who regularly entertained the 51st HD.

Ask mod. Kate Wills.

post-14525-0-96758100-1300857818.jpg

Chris

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centurion

. Likewise, their sister regiment, the Paris mimes, known colloquially as Les Freres de Marceau, who, it is said never cried out in pain, even when injured.

I'm at one with the Patrician of Ankh Morpork who had all mime artists hung upside down in the scorpion pit (with a sign also upside down that said "Learn the Words") Any way isn't it Trappists who damage their fingers screaming for assistance?

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truthergw

Co-incidentally, last night on a repeat of QI, The inimitable Sandy Hockspit repeated the information about parrots on the Eiffel Tower. I take that to be incontrovertible proof that it is sheer balderdash and poppycock.

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nils d

The tower is not where one would put spotters. The limitations of air craft detection at the time meant that spotters were placed as close to the first point at which incoming aircraft could be detected (by sound or eye) so as to give as much warning as possible to one's fighter squadrons to scramble and AA batteries to be on the alert. Putting the spotters in the middle of the target would be, to use some Lancashire technical words "just plane daft" as, parrot or no parrot, by the time incoming aircraft were detected it would be much too late to avoid them bombing. You don't put your sentries in the middle of the camp you post them round the outside, the same applied to aircraft spotters.

The tower first became a centre for military wireless technology in 1909 just before it was due to be dismantled. In 1903 Gustave Eiffel had suggested to Captain Gustave Ferrié, who was responsible for investigating possible military applications for wireless transmission that the Tower would provide an admirable base for this and volunteered to provide funding. Captain Ferrié received permission from the Department of Military Engineering to install antennas on the Tower. By 1909 the principle was proven and a semi secret underground military radio telegraphy station was built. The concession for the tower was renewed. By 1913 transatlantic communications were established and also with French naval ships as far as 3,750 miles away.

Code breaking was established at the station and in 1914 this detected that General Von Marwitz was temporarily halting his advance at the Marne and this initiated the famous Taxis de la Marne. At the same time the range and power of the station proved crucial in coordinating the French counter attack. As a result the concession for the Tower was once again renewed in perpetuity. It became a victorious icon of the battle.

The duties of the Tower in WW1 included:

Radio transmission to the Front and to most of the French possessions overseas

ELINT monitoring German army wireless communications

Detection of transmissions from German agents in France

Monitoring of German transmissions from neutral countries

Jamming German transmissions

Deception and spoofing transmissions

Receiving and disseminating reports from aircraft spotters located around France

Aircraft detection through the wireless noise generated by their engines

One could say that it became the French WW1 equivalent of GCHQ - all sorts of cover stories were generated to conceal these activities (I think the Parrots are probably one of these - its about as sensible as the WW2 ones that RAF night fighter pilots were successful because they ate raw carrots).

There seems to be no reliable evidence that it was actually used for aircraft spotting. The only non wireless activity appears to have been the installation of meteorological instruments high up in the structure.

Listern carefully l will squark zis only once..........

if all this secret work was going on in the tower you wouldnt have parrots there as well, they might talk.....

sacre blue as they say [or even sacre norwigan blue]

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