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Virginia Postrel

The Thrill of the Bird Hunt

Finding the dockless Bird scooters and getting paid to charge them is frustrating and doesn’t pay much. But it’s fun.

Gotta catch ’em all (or just one).

Gotta catch ’em all (or just one).

Photographer: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

I first heard about Bird hunting when a friend who knows of my Pokemon Go addiction sent me a link to this Atlantic article about how young people were picking up Bird scooters and charging them overnight. “Charging scooters for Bird is like Pokemon Go,” a San Franciscan who hunts with his girlfriend told reporter Taylor Lorenz, “but when you get paid for finding Pokemon.” The reported money wasn’t bad, either, “up to several hundred dollars a night.”

Curious and, I’ll admit, attracted by the promise of flexible earnings that didn’t require crafting sentences, I registered to be a Bird charger. I didn’t hear anything from the company and let it drop. But my Bloomberg Opinion conversation with Nat Bullard about the dockless scooter-sharing business piqued my curiosity again. The contractors who pick up the battery-powered scooters, charge them overnight and put them out in the early morning are essential to the success of the rental companies. What’s the job like? I nudged Bird, got my first charger packs and set to work.