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Into the Outdoors: Disappearance of Birds in North America

You know, sometimes, something can happen right before your eyes without being noticed. Recently, I read some articles on the disappearance of birds in North America. It would appear that the numbers of certain species are declining at a rather rapid rate. Special mention was given to the red-winged blackbird. These birds, with their beautiful song, are among the first to return in the spring of the year. After reading the article, I realized something disturbing. As near as I can recall, I did not see or, for that matter, hear, even one of these birds this year. I just didn’t notice their absence until it was pointed out. The same holds true for the purple grackle.

In Tessa, hundreds of red-winged blackbirds seemed to just fall out of the sky, and were found on and near a highway. Theories abound about the birds’ scarcity. One that seems to make sense is West Nile virus. I suppose that bird flu would also be a possibility. We can only hope that ornithologists can figure out the cause and stop it. It’s all sort of scary. Just look at what happened to bats. Once, they were abundant. Now, in my own case, it has been a number of years since I have seen even one.

There is another disease concern, according to the Game Commission. It is called Eastern Equine Encephalitis, and is transmissible to humans, although not considered dangerous to most. Here is an excerpt from the Game Commission news release on the topic.

The disease is transmitted to people, mammals and birds through the bites of mosquitoes that have fed on infected birds.

To reduce the potential for contracting EEE, use insect repellent when outdoors and cover exposed skin, especially at dusk when mosquitoes are most active. Standing water around homes also should be removed because mosquitoes lay their eggs in water.

While EEE is not transmitted by direct contact, hunters always are advised to take precautions when field-dressing animals they harvest to avoid contracting potentially infectious diseases. Hunters should:

Wear gloves when field dressing, skinning, and/or processing game

Clean knives thoroughly before and after using them for skinning, dressing and processing, or use different knives for each step, then clean them well afterward. Hand-wash first, then wash them in a dishwasher

Thoroughly wash hands after field dressing, skinning, and processing game

Cook wild game meat thoroughly to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F

While there is no evidence that people can become infected with EEE from preparing or eating infected meat, any risk of infection can be eliminated by proper handling and thorough cooking of meat before it is consumed.

The warm weather we have been having lately has permitted some mosquitoes to live longer than might be expected, so caution is a good idea.

On another front, you may recall that, a while back, I wrote about the “sport” of magnet fishing. I am still watching You Tube videos on the subject, and am becoming more and more fascinated with it. I now have two powerful magnets. I have yet to try them out, but Old Bub and I have a trip planned to do so. I’ll give a report on how it turns out. We have a couple of promising places in mind.

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