I've noticed a couple of stories in the news recently about birds being detained in foreign countries, suspected of being spies. Here is one from Egypt. Here's another recent one from Turkey.
In both of these cases, some folks saw a bird with tagged, either leg-banded or wearing a GPS backpack. The average bird not typically being accessorized, these people became suspicious that the birds had more complicated backstories, and detained the birds so they could be checked out by the authorities. In both cases, the birds were cleared of all "charges" and released.
These stories were represented as "News of the Odd" in the East, peppered with "in a case that ruffled feathers..." puns and "check out these wacky foreigners!" attitudes. It's a frustrating condescension, because these stories tell me something much more interesting and sad about the current state of things.
The thing is, it doesn't sound unreasonable to me at all that a bird would be used as a spy. We live in a world of unmanned drones, of computers that fit in the palms of our hands. We are actively trying to make robots that look like birds. We're making them the size of bugs. Is it really so far-fetched that some of this technology could be attached to a bird and sent into enemy territory? Hasn't it happened before?
What saddens me about these stories is that they illustrate the echoing gap between those parts of the world accustomed to turmoil, and those that aren't. There are people in the world who see a bird with a backpack and think "oh, a GPS tracker!" and there are those who think "that bird is spying on me."
I don't know where I'm going with this, because I don't know anything about anything. The world is a complicated place.