A bird in Egypt has been detained as a spy this weekend. In an almost farcical twist, the so-called French swan spy captured in Egypt has turned out to be a plain old migratory white stork.
Considering that the white storks in their thousands migrate each and every spring and fall between Europe and Africa over the Middle East, you might expect the Egyptian authorities to be a little more on the ball. But apparently the bird spy arrest in Egypt is just one more reflection of ongoing hysteria and war nerves in the region.
The white stork is known to many people around the world as the bird that inspired the legend of storks bringing babies.
According to a report in The Washington Post, a man in a town some 280 miles southeast of Cairo, Egypt brought the stork still alive to the authorities. He trapped the bird because he apparently believed it carried either a bomb or a spy cam.
The white stork was indeed wearing a tracking device.
But the head of the local veterinary services, Ayman Abdallah, said the device was a tracker placed on the bird by French scientists to study its migration. As soon as the device crossed the French border, it stopped working.
No one has attempted to explain why Abdallah called the white stork a swan. It would be almost impossible to confuse the two birds in the field, much less behind bars. I’ll guess that his words simply got garbled in translation. Clearly, he knows what he has, since he was able to find out who put the tracking device on the bird so quickly.
In any case, at the time of writing, the vet was waiting for permission to release the accused Egyptian bird spy back into the wild.