Bee-eater bird suspected to be doubling as spy for Israel

BBC News – Turkey villagers see Israeli spy in migratory bird.

A migratory bird has caused alarm in a village in south-eastern Turkey after locals mistook it for an Israeli spy.

Villagers’ suspicions were aroused when the bird, a common European bee-eater, was found dead in a field with a metal ring around its leg stamped “Israel”.

They called the police after deciding its nostrils were unusually large and may have carried a microchip fitted by Israeli intelligence for spying.

The BBC’s Jonathan Head, in Istanbul, says the regional office of the Turkish agriculture ministry examined the colourfully plumed corpse and assured residents of the village, near the city of Gaziantep, that it was common practice to fit a ring to migratory birds in order to track their movements.

Tip: Fortean Times

Even after it was clear the bird was just passing through (and passing away) and posed no threat, the officials who made the call said it was difficult to convince local police. Wow, paranoia reigns! The relationship between Turkey and Israel has deteriorated, so this paranoia is not hard to explain. In addition, the article notes that conspiracy theories take root easily in Turkey. We must consider these reactions in terms of the context in which they occur. Though it may seem ridiculous to us, it seems very real and scary to others.

  3 comments for “Bee-eater bird suspected to be doubling as spy for Israel

  1. Massachusetts
    May 17, 2012 at 9:59 AM

    Yes very paranoid indeed. Though it’s interesting to note that with new advances in technology and miniaturization, it’s not technically impossible to outfit a bird with such a device (though the nostril part is pretty over the top). But if that was the case, then you’d have to wonder why they’d put a band on it labelled “Israel” which would rather completely blow their cover, wouldn’t it? And it seems like a very convoluted way to pull off a spy mission. A small drone would work better in that it’s completely under their control and can be monitored at all times. If I found a banded bird I’d immediately think “research project,” either University or Governmental. That does show you how very polarized the region is politically, I guess.

  2. 42Oolon
    May 17, 2012 at 5:07 PM

    A hummingbird robot with a camera already exists…

  3. Massachusetts
    May 17, 2012 at 10:06 PM

    Hmmm…that’s interesting. Though I would suggest not banding the bird with “Israel” but rather “This is just an ordinary bird.” That should keep its cover nicely. It’s a wonder the CIA hasn’t tapped me yet.

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