Russian eagles run up huge roaming charges during migration study

The eagles are touring Iran and Pakistan, and racking up big bills.

The birds flew to spots as far as Iran and Pakistan from southern Russia and Kazakhstan, the BBC reported.

One eagle, called Min, was especially expensive. Min accumulated SMS messages to send while it summered in Kazakhstan, but it was out of range of the mobile network. Unexpectedly, the eagle flew about 1,300 miles to Iran, where it sent the huge backlog of messages. In Kazakhstan, each message would cost about 25 cents to send, but from Iran they cost 76 cents each.

The volunteers at the Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre in Novosibirsk had started crowdfunding on social media with a campaign called “Top up the eagle’s mobile,” to pay off the bills, and gathered about $1,560.

Russian mobile phone operator Megafon offered to cancel the debt and put the project on a special, cheaper deal after learning of the team’s dilemma.

The team then uses satellite photos to see if the birds have reached safe locations. Power lines are a particular threat for the eagles, which are endangered in Russia and Central Asia.

They are currently tracking 13 eagles. The birds breed in Siberia and Kazakhstan, but fly to South Asia for the winter.

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