Not Free, Bird: Russian Researchers Were Bankrupted by Their Tagged Eagles’ Roaming Charges

ALI1992/iStock via Getty Images
ALI1992/iStock via Getty Images

Steppe eagles have 7-foot wingspans, mainly eat carrion, and never read the fine print on their cell phone plans.

Russian researchers collectively face-palmed when they realized that the trackers on their tagged eagles had been sending text messages from regions outside of their cell service coverage, resulting in exorbitant roaming charges.

As Gizmodo reports, the trackers automatically sent texts with location updates back to the researchers at the Russian Raptors Research and Conservation Network so they could chart the eagles’ summer migration patterns. If you’re thinking it was a little presumptuous for the researchers to assume the birds would stay within the invisible boundaries of good cell reception, you’re right—but they didn’t assume that. In fact, they expected just the opposite: that the birds would spend the summer in a region of Kazakhstan with no cell reception at all. That way, the researchers would receive the backed-up texts whenever the birds flew back through regions with cell service.

To their credit, the plan mostly worked. The majority of the birds did stay in Kazakhstan and transmitted their unsent messages while flying over parts of Russia and Kazakhstan where the researchers had cell coverage. Unfortunately, a few aberrant adventurers soared all the way to Iran, where there was good reception—just not on the researchers’ cell plan. For months, the trackers sent four messages per day per bird, at about $0.77 each.

We don’t know precisely why these specific eagles ventured so much farther than the norm, but it could have to do with the diminishing of their normal breeding range in Russia and Kazakhstan, where more and more land is being converted to farmland.

In a post on the Russian social media platform VK, the researchers wrote that their budget was “completely exhausted,” and launched a fundraising campaign to raise money for the project.

“They really left us penniless,” researcher Igor Karyakin told Phys.org. “We had to take out a loan to feed the tracker device.”

Luckily, donations from avian aficionados should last the birds at least through the rest of the year.

Interested in learning more about the wonders of our fine-feathered friends? Here are 44 fun facts about birds.

[h/t Gizmodo]

Wayfair’s Fourth of July Clearance Sale Takes Up to 60 Percent Off Grills and Outdoor Furniture

Wayfair/Weber
Wayfair/Weber

This Fourth of July, Wayfair is making sure you can turn your backyard into an oasis while keeping your bank account intact with a clearance sale that features savings of up to 60 percent on essentials like chairs, hammocks, games, and grills. Take a look at some of the highlights below.

Outdoor Furniture

Brisbane bench from Wayfair
Brisbane/Wayfair

- Jericho 9-Foot Market Umbrella $92 (Save 15 percent)
- Woodstock Patio Chairs (Set of Two) $310 (Save 54 percent)
- Brisbane Wooden Storage Bench $243 (Save 62 percent)
- Kordell Nine-Piece Rattan Sectional Seating Group with Cushions $1800 (Save 27 percent)
- Nelsonville 12-Piece Multiple Chairs Seating Group $1860 (Save 56 percent)
- Collingswood Three-Piece Seating Group with Cushions $410 (Save 33 percent)

Grills and Accessories

Dyna-Glo electric smoker.
Dyna-Glo/Wayfair

- Spirit® II E-310 Gas Grill $479 (Save 17 percent)
- Portable Three-Burner Propane Gas Grill $104 (Save 20 percent)
- Digital Bluetooth Electric Smoker $224 (Save 25 percent)
- Cuisinart Grilling Tool Set $38 (Save 5 percent)

Outdoor games

American flag cornhole game.
GoSports

- American Flag Cornhole Board $57 (Save 19 percent)
- Giant Four in a Row Game $30 (Save 6 percent)
- Giant Jenga Game $119 (Save 30 percent)

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The Reason Your Dog Follows You Everywhere

Crew, Unsplash
Crew, Unsplash

Depending on your mood, a dog that follows you everywhere can be annoying or adorable. The behavior is also confusing if you're not an expert on pet behavior. So what is it about the canine companions in our lives that makes them stick by our sides at all times?

Most experts agree on a few different reasons why some dogs are clingy around their owners. One is their pack mentality. Dogs may have been domesticated thousands of years ago, but they still consider themselves to be part of a group like their wild ancestors. When there are no other dogs around, their human family becomes their pack. According to Reader's Digest, this genetic instinct is also what motivates dogs to watch you closely and seek out your physical touch.

The second reason for the behavior has to do with the bond between you and your pet. As veterinarian Dr. Rachel Barrack told the American Kennel Club, puppies as old as 6 months can imprint on their human owners like they would their own mothers. Even older dogs will bond with the humans in their lives who show them care and affection. In these cases, a dog will shadow its owner because it sees them as an object of trust and security.

The last possible explanation for why your dog follows you has more to do with your treatment of them than their natural instincts. A popular training tactic is positive reinforcement—i.e. rewarding a dog with treats, pets, and praise when they perform positive behaviors. The point is to help your dog associate good behaviors with rewards, but after a while, they may start to associate your presence with rewards as well. That means if your dog is following you, they may be looking for treats or attention.

A clingy dog may be annoying, but it usually isn't a sign of a larger problem. If anything, it means your dog sees you in a positive light. So enjoy the extra companionship, and don't be afraid to close the door behind when you need some alone time.