Backyard Birds, Everyday Epiphany, humor, Outdoors

Up in the Air About Filling Birdfeeders in Illinois

Until recently I squirted hand sanitizer with abandon, washed groceries with diluted bleach, and created a bubble of friends who adhered to the same strict “Covid Avoidance Behaviors” as I did.

Now I wash my hands thoroughly (with sanitizer as backup), produce is washed (but the frozen pizza boxes are immediately popped in the freezer), and I hug friends (regardless of their opinion of Tony Fauci).

I’m confident that Mariano’s will have toilet paper.

Although I’m vaccinated, double boosted, and gained natural immunity after contracting and recovering from the more contagious Corona cousin, virus long haul trepidation lingered. 

I upgraded my cute Etsy masks to N95s.

I flinched when I heard a cough.

Then spring arrived and Tony declared the pandemic passed. I resumed typical activities like flying to Arizona and inviting unbubbled friends INSIDE my home and shopping offline. 

I purchased a new Droll Yankee bird feeder, peanuts for the jays, and sunflower seeds for the cardinals. (I’m a birder. This is exciting to me.)

Then Avian FlA (H5N1) devastated a cormorant colony at Baker’s Lake in Barrington. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources recommended the use of bird feeders and bird baths cease through May 31st to help halt spread of the virus.

Take down my feeders during migration? Top bird viewing season?

To me, this would be like recommending the Olympics be cancelled or Wimbledon shut down or Broadway unplugged. Wait . . . all that DID happen.

Hemming and Hawing

I would NOT hang my feeders! I would NOT fill the baths!

Since the IDNR recommended taking down bird feeders and bird baths, my new Yankee Classic remained boxed and the sunflower bag sealed.

Nature is IDNR’s business. They should know. After all, NR, stands for natural resources. 

Then I read a passage from The Journal of Wildlife Diseases.

According to the wildlife disease experts “passerines and terrestrial wild birds may have a limited role in the epidemiology of IAV. There is no evidence supporting their involvement as natural reservoirs for IAV.”

Toing and Froing

I WOULD hang my feeders. I WOULD fill the baths!

Since The Journal of Wildlife Diseases reported that there was no evidence supporting that passerines (songbirds) are involved in the spread of the disease, I unboxed my Droll Yankee and ripped open the sack of peanuts.

Disease is The Journal’s business. They should know. After all Wildlife Diseases is in the title.

Then I read a newsletter from the Audubon Society reporting that there were “recent infections in Canada and the US of Blue Jays, American Crows, and Common Ravens.”

Blowing Hot and Cold

I would NOT hang my feeders. I would NOT fill the baths.

Since the Audubon society confirmed that Blue Jays and Crows and Ravens contracted the disease, I stored my Yankee Classic and taped shut the sunflower seeds and peanuts.

Birds are Audubon’s business. They should know. After all, Audubon is in their name.

Then I read further on Audubon’s site.

“The National Audubon Society currently recommends its members to follow the guidelines provided by local and state agencies.” 

This brought me full circle to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources website that I reread. 

Now the IDNR gave a thumbs up to hummingbird and oriole feeders. “The biggest threat is at seed and grain feeders where waterfowl and songbirds may interact.”

I don’t live lake or river front. I’ve NEVER seen waterfowl cavorting with the chickadees in my backyard. So, is this pertinent to my situation?

On The Fence

I definitely will or won’t hang my feeders. I definitely will or won’t fill the baths.

I WILL clean all the feeders and baths with a bleach solution.

Then I’ll sleep on it and hang fire because I’m of two minds and the jury is still out.

By then it might be May 31st and maybe I won’t be sitting on the fence. 

2 thoughts on “Up in the Air About Filling Birdfeeders in Illinois”

  1. The good news is that I was informed by a state wildlife refuge bird expert that the birds don’t need seed in feeders after the trees get buds and before there is a cover of snow, and there is usually plenty of rain in the spring in northern IL. Good news about hummers tho. Thanks for the great summary !


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