A purple, head-banging bird is everywhere now. It's on Facebook, YouTube, in the comments on New York Times stories and even in your texts. The popular pigeon has become a meme monster.
The bird is the creation of illustrator and visual development artist Syd Weiler who unleashed the fowl upon the world after some unexpected inspiration.
Weiler said she got the idea while visiting Minneapolis. "I was sitting by a pond ... and there were just pigeons everywhere," she said. "I had never thought about pigeons before. They're funny little birds. They have really shiny, colorful, almost rainbow-y feathers, but then they bob around and waddle and beg for food. They're like doves but they eat trash."
She made the images of the bird, available on iOS 10, last year, creating them digitally based on her original drawings. She even streamed their creation live on Twitch.TV, where she's a "full-time creative streamer," creating art in front of viewers daily which, Weiler said, is "like monetizing a YouTube channel."
Then at the end of January, the stickers hit Facebook, fueling their popularity, especially on the other side of the world.
It seems that ground zero for Trash Dove's explosion, according to Know Your Meme, was its appearance in an animated video produced in Thailand which featured the head-banging Trash Dove dancing next to an animated cat which takes an unexpected and, ahem, adult turn.
Weiler was taken by surprise: "I woke up... and everyone was tagging me and sending me these Thai news articles that I couldn't read but had my picture on them."
As for the above video, Weiler says, "I thought it was really funny. At that point, there's not much I can do about it but laugh."
The stickers have made their mark across Facebook, even, as noted by The Verge, invading Facebook comment sections of sites like Vox and The New York Times.
The comments section on a recent post by Weiler shows that even the creator can't escape the monster meme.
Lest there was any question as to whether the meme has taken on a life of its own, consider that it's allegedly been co-opted by the alt-right, according to users on a Reddit thread and a Medium post.
Weiler, though, is focusing on the joy her creation brings to fans, rather than the more unsavory turns.
"[The trash doves] were made to make people laugh and make people happy," she says. "I'm really glad people like them. I'm really glad they make people smile and seeing the fan art and all the nice comments has been really, really nice."