From the Should I be worried file:
We have a lot of trees in our neighborhood and our yard. That’s one of the benefits of living in a well established neighborhood.
Normally we wake up to the sound of birds singing in the trees right outside my sons window. Normally we also wouldn’t get any fruit off our trees. Almost all have bird pecks in them. Normally we also have big flocks of crows in the old Elm trees. Normally there’s a hawk that has taken to living in a tall cedar just down the block.
But this year is different. There are NO birds. NONE.
There are no humming birds buzzing at the flowers. There are no sparrows making their home under the eaves. Even the robin that picked at the lawn in the morning is gone. You see, this is West Nile Virus country.
When I was a boy growing up on the farm my dad had a trick. He would shoot a bird, normally a blue jay, then hang it from a T-shaped post in the garden. Not for the birds to see, for the birds to smell.
The birds know. This area smells of death. We, as humans, have long since lost our ability to smell such things. Consider it the trade we made. Civilization and city dwelling for acute senses and primeval hunter/gatherer living.
In the 1800’s coal miners would often carry canaries into the mines. The little birds acted as guardians of the miners. When toxic fumes, unperceptible to humans were present, they would act erratically and even die. This was the sign for miners to flee the area before they too became victims.
The next time you find yourself in an area without birds ask yourself, “do they know something I don’t?”