The Block Island Times

Gull drones to assist island deliveries

By N. Gingrich, B.I.T. Tech Expert | Mar 28, 2014

We are living in an age of technological booms.

Although Block Island may seem to be lagging behind in these advances, a recent endeavor by a group of the island’s restaurateurs and shopkeeps caught the attention of investors on crowd-funding sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo, becoming fully funded within weeks. And the concept and apparent viral interest have online news sources calling the concept “the next biggest thing in package delivery.”

The idea was sprung out of the recent news that would be using unmanned drones to deliver products to homes quickly and efficiently. Block Island’s concept is an offshoot dubbed B.I.R.D.S. (Block Island Rural Delivery Service). Restaurants and stores on the island will employ gulls, of which Block Island has an abundance, to deliver ordered food and merchandise to island locales cheaply and conveniently.

The team of gulls, presently numbering 31 (upwards of 75 during summer), are being trained by island bird expert and Town Warden Kimberley Gaffett. “Gulls are incredible navigators,” says Gaffett. “I mean, have you ever seen a gull ask for directions. It just doesn’t happen.”

Block Island, because of its small footprint, is a natural location for this type of two-winged delivery. “It wouldn’t work anywhere else,” says Gaffett. “A gull carrying a 6-pack of even light beer can only make it about half mile. Using three or four gulls as relays, we’ve got half the island covered.”

Using their dedicated mobile website (, B.I.R.D.S. customers will be able to order various items, pay with a credit card, and have them delivered directly to their location within 20 minutes. A disclaimer on the site does note that delivery times may vary if a gull passes over someone on the beach eating any type of orange curly chip or spots roadkill. Otherwise, the B.I.R.D.S team stands by their delivery estimates.

Head to the website for more information. It is currently under construction and goes fully live on Memorial Day weekend.

The B.I.R.D.S. team recommends the use of beach umbrellas and wide-brimmed hats during the summer’s heavy delivery season.


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