A dead bird found in a farmer’s field in Turkey is suspected by authorities of being an Israeli spy.
Israel‘s YNet News reports that the dead Merops apiaster, commonly known as the European Bee-eater, had a ring reading “Israel” around one of its legs. Banding birds is a common practice that allows ornithologists to track migrations and other movements.
But the “Israel” band and the bird’s “unusually large nostrils,” which Turkish authorities believed was evidence of an implanted surveillance device, aroused enough suspicion that an investigation was reportedly launched.
The dead bird was first sent to the Turkish Agriculture Ministry, then to the state security service in Ankara.
The Israeli Society for Protection of Nature learned of the situation and quickly confirmed that the “suspect” had been banded four years ago. “The Turkish authorities can rest easy, it’s not a spy,” Yoav Pearlman of the Israeli Birdwatching Center told YNet. Pearlman said that many European Bee-eaters live in northern Israel and that their migration route takes them directly over Turkey.
Incredibly, this is not the first time an Israeli bird has been suspected of being a spy in a nearby country. In January 2011, the BBC reported that a griffon vulture fitted with a GPS transmitter and a band reading “Tel Aviv University” was captured and detained in Saudi Arabia, suspected of being part of “Zionist plot.”
That bird was eventually declared innocent by Saudi Prince Bandar bin Saud al-Saud, the national security council chief, and released.
There’s more. In December 2010, YNet reported that Mohamed Abdul Fadil Shousha, governor of Egypt’s South Sinai province, accused Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, of controlling sharks and causing a series of attacks in which a German tourist was killed at the Red Sea resort of Sharm-el Sheikh.
The Israeli foreign ministry said the governor “must have seen “Jaws” one time too many.”