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Article Archive >> Community

Daze of My Life: Bird flew

Daze of My Life
Bird flew

So the birds are migrating, and ever closer to our United States. So what? What are they supposed to do? Die or fly free? Besides, everybody wants to come to America; over our southern border, across our northern border, by boat--from Cuba or by air from everywhere else.
Of course the birds want to fly here. Why wouldn't they? There's probably better food here, more open spaces, more varieties of other birds with whom to flock and flutter, less extremities of weather/temperature (and if a certain environment doesn't suit a particular species, they can simply fly south or north or east or west until they find a more suitable climate, like the snowbirds do), plenty of water, etc.; in short, they have lots of freedom here, and choices, too, and identification papers are not required. (Besides, how would they carry them? Unless they were carrier pigeons but carrier pigeons are already here.)
The problem is, that some, maybe lots of the birds heading here are sick. Allegedly, they're infected with a strain of potentially devastating influenza that could be deadly if contracted by humans. But no one is certain the degree to which humans will really be effected by this "bird flu" and how the flu will actually transfer from avian to human. Sure, there are already reports of humans who have been identified as "having" this bird flu, and the prospect of a state-wide, nation-wide or planet-wide epidemic has reintroduced an old word back into our vocabulary--pandemic, because epidemic, apparently, isn't bad enough. Moreover, it's almost as if a marketing campaign has to be planned and coordinated to attract a large and diverse enough audience since early indications are that the avian flu is an equal opportunity infector.
And so, every day, the hype inches closer to our reality. And once Barry Bonds hits homer number 715 and passes Babe Ruth, perhaps bird flu rather than the flight of a baseball will move closer to center stage and leave centerfield behind. A related problem however is, that we have so many other diversions here, personal, professional, familial, that unless the issue at hand is in our own backyard, literally (NIMBY), we just can't focus.
Ironically, the reasons these birds may be coming to America--freedom, better living conditions, social-type security--are the very reasons why we Americans can't get excited about their arrival. They're coming here for all the same reasons why we're already here. After all, America is the land of opportunity, the home of the free and the brave, from sea to shinning sea. They'll probably be happy here, be fruitful and multiply and secure their species' legacy. All they want to do is fly free with the wind underneath their wings. Can you blame them?
So they're coming, they're definitely coming. The time and place is a bit sketchy but.... Will they infect us? Or will we simply infect one another? Or will they die in flight before they ever set claw in the lower 48 (reports have them in Alaska already)? At this point, from what spokespersons from the National Institutes of Health and the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Ga. and others in the medical and scientific community say, the general consensus is, it may very well be by a wing and a prayer by which we all avoid this horrible outcome.
I'm sure it will all work out ok, though. Once the birds arrive and see how nice it is in America, I can't imagine that they would want to bring death and disease to their new hosts (kill the golden goose, so to speak). We could make it so pleasant (bird feeders, bird baths, etc.) for them so long as we're alive and not so paranoid that we're killing them at every turn to assure our own health and fitness. And what fun would that be? For them or us? So I have every confidence that when all is diagnosed and done, the birds will thrive and we will survive, unless something gets fowled up somewhere.

Kenneth B. Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.

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