A steppe eagle landed Russian researchers with a soaring bill when its GPS tracker began transmitting multiple messages from Iran.
Ornithologists were following the movements of steppe eagles through a GPS system that sent text messages with the birds' geolocation.
Two eagles spent the summer outside of a mobile coverage area in Kazakhstan. One eagle flew to Russia where she triggered one million text messages at just 2 rubles (€0.03) a message.
The other eagle, called Min, flew to Iran where she sent text messages with all her summer locations at 49 rubles (€0.69) a message, according to a Telegram post by Russian ornithologist (bird expert) Elena Schneider who is a member of the Russian Raptor Research and Conservation Network.
The researchers had to crowdfund to raise money after the messages almost drained their budget. Igor Karyakin wrote on Facebook that they lacked funding to continue their work, and earlier this month called for donors to sponsor the birds.
But Karyakin said on Friday that they had "closed the hole" in their budget thanks to contributions.
"We will receive the scientific information on the movements of birds in the same amount as before, without loss," Karyakin wrote on Facebook.
"People continue to send money, therefore there is a hope that we will be able to maintain paying for eagle sim cards," he said.
Steppe eagles are an endangered species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.