Monday, April 25, 2022

Is ‘flu’ really hurting ‘birds?’


     The cardinals are out in force this year. Every day a pair or two peck at my backyard feeder, joined by all sorts of warblers and finches, swallows and blue jays. I love watching birds. They add joy to life.
     So when the Illinois Department of Natural Resources suggested residents take down their bird feeders and clean them with bleach to combat an outbreak of highly-contagious avian flu, I thought: “Wait a second! What about MY rights? You mean some government agency is going to tell me what I can do in my own backyard? Based on what? Where is the science? How are we to know that this isn’t the work of Big Bleach, the Clorox people trying to get us to start emptying bottles into buckets, willy-nilly?”
     I decided to do my own research. There are questions whether birds even exist at all. ”Are Birds Actually Government-Issued Drones?” asks a 2018 headline on the Audubon Society web site no less. Look at the story yourself; I’m not making this up. There is a “Birds Aren’t Real” movement. If we can’t be 100 percent certain that birds themselves exist, how can anyone discuss the supposed ailments that these supposed “birds” supposedly have?
     Kidding. I took my feeder down immediately, cleaned it with bleachy water, as instructed, then used the mixture to wipe down the cast iron hook and squirrel defense system.
     Why? Because a person who appreciates birds enough to feed them should not unwittingly cause their deaths. And as smart a guy as I fancy myself to be, I’m not the sole arbitrator of everything. State natural resource experts know more about birds than I do.
     The whole “trust-knowledge” mindset that runs against the chunk of the population who reacted to COVID-19 by covering their ears and making gargling noises or declaring what they want has to be right, since they want it. Wah.
     The attitude infused a column on vaccinations that ran in the Chicago Reader last November.

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