Some steppe eagles got into trouble with their researchers for sending text messages that resulted in huge cell phone bills.
Bad, bad birds!
Researchers at the Russian Raptors Research and Conservation Network were studying the steppe eagles to learn more about their summer migratory patterns. To track the eagles, researchers tagged the birds with GPS monitors that would send their locations via text.
The idea was that the eagles would fly around all summer in a virtually cell tower-less region of Kazakhstan, banking up texts of their GPS coordinates that would eventually get sent when they returned to cell service.
So, yes, the plan worked…almost.
The birds spent the majority of their time in the area researchers assumed they would. And the researchers received texts whenever the eagles hit a network in other parts of Kazakhstan and Russia.
What the researchers didn’t anticipate were the odd trips into Iran, where there is oodles of cell phone coverage. Unfortunately, the researchers’ cell phone plan didn’t cover that service.
The eagles weren’t only soaring, they were roaming.
Everyone knows– except steppe eagles, evidently – that sending text messages without an international calling plan is like throwing money out the window.
What do birds think? That money grows on trees?
The researchers were charged about $0.77 per text, at four per bird per day.
In the eagles’ defense, they may have decided to vacay in Iran due to the loss of some of their traditional Kazakh breeding grounds to farmland. At any rate, they literally bankrupted the scientists, who had to turn to social media for fundraising.
Friends and fans of steppe eagles stepped up and covered the birds’ bills (and more) so the research could continue.
Cell phone roaming charges are…for the birds.