I never thought I'd ask for help with story identification but here goes.
Sometime between 2003 and 2008 I read a story that featured a society of magic users that channeled their magic from birds that they were bound to (hawks, owls, etc) through staves to perform magical feats. If I recall correctly, it was very difficult to join the society of bird wielding magic users and they were very respected.
On the other side of the world across the sea is a highly technologically advanced industrial society that are polluting their land so badly that they have to live in doors.
The first book is about a group people from the tech society infiltrating the magical society with artificial birds and staves that had flamethrowers and other things built in so that they could perform 'magic' convincingly.
I think they were scouts trying to see how easy it would be to take over the other continent for its resources.
The second book has one of the real magic users going to the other continent and leading an underground movement.
What series is this from?