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When Birds Don't Fly: The Bird Flu

   By: John T Jones, Ph.D.

During the last years of World War II, or shortly thereafter, a pregnant Brown Tree Snake (or brown Treesnake) hitched a ride to Guam by air buy more likely by sea.

If that is not true, then a male and a female Brown Tree Snake did the hitching.

Actually, a group of BTSs grabbed passage, perhaps not all at once.

Anyway, a caboodle of little BTSs were born and still thrive in Guam. They eat birds by the thousands.

Yum, Yum!

They eliminated several species of birds, lizards, and other insect-eating critters. They pick on the rodents too.

They are having a bonanza.

They are the only snakes there.

Well, not quite. There is the Ramphotyphlops braminus, a small worm snake that lives on the sandy beaches.

“Hey look! Isn't that a Ramphotyphlops braminus, a small worm snake that lives on sandy beaches.”

A guy from the Audubon Society actually said that, maybe.

The BTSs didn't miss there former home of New Guinea at all. In New Guinea, other predators were always picking on them, never leaving them alone. In Guam they sun on the rocks or the highest limbs of the trees without a care in the world. No hawk, snake, or mongoose ever bothers them.

In some areas of Guam the snake density is over 13,000 per square mile, and they ALL are Brown Tree Snakes.

The guy that counted them said, "I'm not sure that number is exact. They are always slithering this way and that."

Well, maybe he didn't say that, but he should have.

BTSs have one enemy for sure in Guam.

Parents don't like BTSs because they bite their kids.

Well, the BRTs are not that fussy. They will bite a parent too.

Some parents hit them with sticks or throw rocks at them right in front of environmentalists.*

Well, what is my point?

This is a long way down the page to make it.

My point is: that the bugs are taking over on Guam. Little critters on which the birds and lizards use to feed have no enemies because the LBTs don't eat them.

Picky, Picky, Picky!

Well, there is a second point.

Mark this as my Main Point: Birds eat insects. The bird flu kills birds by the thousands. The insects then thrive. What do insects eat? Some eat grain and other food products. Some build nasty webs in every bush and crevice. Ugh!

Aren't the current locust plagues in Africa, Australia, and even here in Idaho where we have the Mormon cricket, bad enough? Think like it will be like if there are no birds to kill the bugs.

For now, the bird flu is not transmitted from man to man, or woman to woman, or woman to man, or child to man, etc. But it sure as heck IS transmitted from bird to bird! Thousands of wild birds were reported dead in Russia this week.

That is a problem!

It could greatly affect our food supply.

Well, couldn't it?

I guess I should have told you that I'm not an expert on this.

Anyway, I got you this far, so I expect you to do something about it.

We must first save the domestic and wild birds from the bird flu virus. We need our Sunday chicken, our Thanksgiving turkey, and all of our wild birds.

We also must stop even the possibility of the bird flu virus killing humans by transmittal from humans. We must not forget the birds.

Let's hope the flu will never mutate to a form that can be transmitted by humans. For now, you must be around sick birds to catch it. If it does mutate, then we are in for it. That is why the governments are frantically trying to find a vaccine and then scale up to produce it for millions of people.

Did you know that the 1917 flu, like most pandemics, was transmitted to the total population? That is why they found hermits in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey dead from the flu. You can't run from it.

Neither can the birds!

P.S. (In Idaho, we hear reports of the West Nile virus killing our birds. Well, that's another story.)

*(Read more about the snakes at: http://www.mesc.usgs.gov/resources/education/bts/invasion/history.asp)

copyright©John Taylor Jones 2005

John Taylor Jones, Ph.D. is a retired engineering R&D executive. His detective and western novels and his nonfiction books are described at his personal site, http://www.TJBooks.com. His ecommerce site is http://www.bookfindhelp.com


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