Fact Check

Seeded Field Prank

Student working on thesis spreads birdseed on school football field every day.

Published Apr 19, 1997

 (Martchan / Shutterstock)
Image Via Martchan / Shutterstock
A student dresses as a referee and spreads birdseed on the school football field every day during the summer; at the school's first home game that fall, the field becomes inundated with birds as soon as the referees step onto the field.

There's a story about an MIT student who spent an entire summer going to the Harvard football field every day wearing a black and white striped shirt, walking up and down the field for ten or fifteen minutes throwing birdseed all over the field, blowing a whistle and then walking off the field. At the end of the summer, it came time for the first Harvard home football team, the referee walked onto the field and blew the whistle, and the game had to be delayed for a half hour to wait for the birds to get off of the field. The guy wrote his thesis on this, and graduated.rd. I've also heard of a prof being trained to stand on one leg while lecturing.

As noted in the example above, this legend is generally claimed to have taken place at a specific university (primarily MIT, whose students are known for their ingenious pranks) and to have been the subject of the perpetrator's thesis. The legend, at least in the form commonly told, appears to be apocryphal: the author of a 1990 book about pranks pulled by MIT students stated that he had not come across a verifiable account of this tale during his years of research. There was never a thesis submitted on any topic that could have included this. Many professors were interviewed and no papers or class projects were reported that could be the origin of the legend.


Mays, Alan E.   "Birdseed Prank."     FOAFTale News.   December 1995   (pp. 4-5).

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