Los Angeles Times

Coat the ravens evermore? To protect tortoises, officials test spraying oil into birds' nests

BARSTOW, Calif. - The sun was rising over the Mojave Desert as crews prepared to demonstrate a devastating new weapon in the war among man, bird and reptile.

Standing on a windswept plain, a group of government and utility officials locked their eyes on a drone as it hovered beside a twisted Joshua tree. As the buzzing contraption drew closer to a nest of twigs and furniture stuffing, a controller's voice cut through the cool morning air.

"Five, four, three, two, one - fire!"

Instantly, the quadcopter squirted streams of silicone oil into the unoccupied raven's nest, thoroughly coating a clutch of simulated eggs.

Though the attack may have lacked the shock and awe of a Hellfire missile strike, it would have proved lethal to actual raven eggs. The layering of oil would have prevented oxygen from permeating the shells, slowly suffocating

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