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.