Published November 20, 2014
Turkish villagers mistook a migratory bird for an Israeli spy, according to the BBC.
The European bee-eater, a small, colorful bird which breeds in southern Europe, north Africa and western Asia, was found dead in a field with a metal ring around its leg that read "Israel," according to the BBC.
The villagers called the police after speculating that the bird's nostrils looked unusually large and may have carried a microchip fitted by Israel for spying purposes.
Government experts declared it safe after examination, according to the BBC.
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YNet News reported that the bird's remains were initially handed over to the Turkish Agriculture Ministry, and then turned over to Ankara's security services.
News of the spy bird reached the Society of Protection of Nature in Israel, which confirmed that the bird was banded four years ago.
The Israeli Birdwatching Center's Yoav Pearlman said the north of Israel was home to a large bee-eater population, and was part of their migration route, including Turkey, southern Europe and Russia.
YNet News said, "Israeli wildlife officials said that this was not the first time that Israeli birds landing in Arab countries as part of their migration were 'detained' for alleged espionage. Such birds, they added, usually disappear."
NBC News reported that last year Saudi Arabia detained a vulture with an Israel band and a GPS transmitter with Tel Aviv University's name, also suspecting it of espionage.
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