A week or so ago a Turkish farmer went out to his field and found a dead bird there. The bird was a European Bee-eater, and it had an aluminum band around its ankle, the kind used to track migration patterns and other behavior. Because the band said “Israel Tel Aviv,” and because the bird’s nostrils were unusually large or asymmetrical (?) they took the body under suspicion for espionage.
The BBC and, of course, a lot of Israeli papers and blogs picked this up originally from Turkish national daily Haber Turk. NPR’s The World ran a good story on it yesterday, where they also get into similar incidents with vultures, sharks, and squirrels—worth a listen.
Incidentally, if you haven’t seen a Bee-eater, take a minute to google. They’re pretty magnificent.
Carrier pigeons and naval dolphins aside, where might this paranoia and narcissism be coming from? Why is it that when non-human animals show a little of their own initiative, we can recognize this as agency, but only so far as we see ourselves acting as agents through animals?
Actually, the real reason I’m posting on all this is just an excuse to bring the conversation around to Leonard Six, a favorite movie for sleepovers when I was growing up. Basically, Bill Cosby is a superhero trying to save San Francisco and the rest of the free world from a vegetarian dystopia, where animals (trout, lobsters, frogs, &c.) are trained to be assassins.
Here’s a clip of ‘80s Roger Ebert ranting about just how much he loathes the movie. This is worth watching mainly to see Ebert gradually overtaken by a sort of fungus that first infests his sweater-vest, then comes on more aggressively toward the end as a kind of holographic starfish!
related: crow machine, costa rica bird list, the synaesthetic puppy