Scientists and environments have long tracked birds because their migratory patterns provide many clues into what is going on with the world. The distances they will travel in order to get to specific locations, as well as when they go, can tell us plenty.
The act of tracking birds has been made easier with improved technology, as now the data can be more precise and transmitted in real time. Now, technology can fail and that is a problem, but for the most part it’s been a tremendous help.
However, the issue that arose with a recent tracking effort was likely unexpected. And perhaps a little comical.
This issue created a bird of a different feather
What happened was some Polish environmentalists with EcoLogic outfitted a migrating male white stork named Kajtek with a tracking device that used a SIM card to help relay the data. Now, you may recognize SIM cards as the very things that allow our cellphones to connect to networks, and indeed it is the very same thing.
In this case, the folks who were tracking the stork noticed it stopped moving in the Blue Nile Valley in Sudan, which was on the way back to Poland after he made an annual 3,700-mile trek to Africa.
At that point the environmentalists figured Kajtek probably died. But then on April 26 the tracker started sending information again, taking a strange 16-mile trip before going dark again.
That was weird, yes, but then weeks later the picture began to clear up. That’s when EcoLogic received a $2,700 phone bill.
Essentially someone took the bird’s tracker and put it in their phone before piling up the charges. EcoLogic is unsure of when the calls were made and they have no idea who took the card and made them, but understands they will probably have to pay the bill.
It is also unclear if Kajtek was killed to get the card or if the card was taken after the bird died, though given the time between when it stopped moving and when the card started up again, it appears unlikely that someone shot it down just to take the SIM.
Instead, it is more likely that the bird passed away and then someone happened upon it, noticing the tracking device before removing it and taking the SIM card. At that point, they went on quite the calling spree.
Really quick, what is a white stork?
The white stork is a pretty large bird, as it can reach a length of around 45 inches with a standing height of 49. Its wingspan ranges from 61 to 85 inches, with it weighing up to about 10 pounds.
They are generally found across Europe, but can also be spotted in North Africa.