(Backyard Wildlife College, Allentown PA, est. 2017)
“More than just fluffy bunnies”
A mysterious and fatal bird disease is spreading among song birds in the eastern US, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission has recommended all feathered creatures observe social distancing and extra hygiene measures.
Backyard Wildlife College in response ceased dining operations for our feathered faculty, staff and students at all feeders, with exception of Cafe Colibri. (Only Mrs. Ruby-Throated uses this facility and so far, no reports have shown her species to be affected.)
At this moment, there are no known cases or fatalities on Backyard Wildlife College’s grounds of this mysterious disease, but we are treating this situation with the utmost seriousness. Birds afflicted by this disease often have “eye swelling and crusty discharge”; other symptoms can include breathing trouble, blood from the mouth, and weakness and neurological issues. Most birds sadly die. Please report any cases (dead or alive) on this form from UPenn, as the human scientists are trying to get to the root of this.
The groundskeeper has immediately taken the following actions: the window feeders and the squirrel-proof tube by the backdoor of the human dwelling have been taken down and washed in a 10% bleach solution (as recommended). The bird bath has been removed, and similarly sanitized before storage. The Organic Protein Bar on the west side of the human dwelling, also known as the expanded wildflower strip, remains open for foraging to all creatures. No agreement has been reached with the Creepy Crawly Division now housed there, but they have been made aware of the situation and reminded of their position in the feeding chain. Our groundskeeper follows the situation carefully and will reopen the dining facilities as soon as the situation is deemed safe again.
Grass remains available at will for rabbits and groundhog, and peanuts can be requested by squirrels.
We realize this is a big blow to the community, as our dining facilities were the hub of the local social wildlife, where House and Gold Finches, Chickadees, Juncos, Sparrows, Cardinals, Mourning Doves, Robins, and the odd Grackle, Catbird, and Cowbird and many more congregated. We hope together (though not physically together) we can stop the spread of this pernicious disease.
However, we have only in the past 16 months seen how a deadly virus ravaged through the human community, and we must try to learn some lessons from that event. We hope that by acting before it’s too late, using a data-driven approach, and erring on the side of caution, we can soon resume our previous convivial chats over sunflower hearts in safety.
Whatever you do as a feathered creature, don’t make our editor create the bird-version of this meme. Remember, we’re better than humans. And usually cuter too.
Be safe, be well, keep your distance. (And if you’re human: get vaccinated when you can & wash your hands!)