AUSTIN (KXAN) — A barrier between the road and the train tracks? A cheeky sight gag meant to spook passersby? A profound message encouraging Austinites to think critically and not believe everything they hear? These are all theories posited online by people trying to figure out why over a dozen scarecrows were erected on a north Austin road last weekend.
According to Reddit users, the scarecrows were placed on, or around, Jan. 21 underneath U.S. Highway 183, where it intersects with the MoPac Expressway. Many had theories of why the enigmatic figures were situated near this busy road, but no one on the thread could be certain.
The scarecrows mouths were ripped, and one had “Don’t follow the heard” – yes, “heard” not “herd” – written in bold black ink across its face. Some Reddit users interpreted this message as promoting free thinking and said the mouths were cut to admonish people from believing lies from the “elite.”
Other users reported feeling unnerved by the figures and raised concerns the scarecrows could be distracting and pose a safety risk.
We even asked our own viewers about the scarecrows on Facebook and Twitter and what they thought the display might mean.
KXAN asked the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to find out if it knew anything about them.
“I reached out to our maintenance team and the scarecrows were removed from the right of way,” Bradley Wheelis, Southwest Communications Director for TxDOT said. “As standard practice, encroachments in the right of way are removed by our crews,” he continued.