Last week someone brought me an adorable little crow found flapping around Main St. Danbury.
The Good Samaritan thought the bird had an injured wing and thought I could save him.
When I got him to Wildlife-Line and we started to look at him we could not find any issue with the wings. He was very small and very malnourished, partly because he was sick and partly because a human who didn’t know how to care for him was keeping him. If you find an animal in distress, you have to remember you do not know what is wrong and take precautions. Cover yourself, use gloves and get them to a rehabilitator as quickly as possible.
This cute little guy turned out to be a Fish Crow. These crows live along the coast or near wetlands.
I never knew there were different types of crows so I learned something new. He was so frail he could not even take the mealworm we offered him. He could get it into his beak but just did not have the strength to swallow it. His poor little head was so weak it just would not stay up. We got some fluids and medicine into him and got him a ride to the Sharon Audubon society. My heart was happy and hopeful.
The next day I was told there was another sick bird in the area – Could it be West Nile Virus? But not here! Not killing our birds! I mean I know I heard someone locally was diagnosed with West Nile, but could it be that bad? Well, yes it is. It turned out that both of these birds had West Nile Virus and did not make it. This is not fake news folks, this is for real.
Since the disease was discovered in the United States in 1999 there have been well over 300 infected birds identified and it is now in all 48 states. (most states don’t even check dead birds anymore as it is so prevalent) Many birds survive but the Blue Jays and Crows have died from the disease more frequently than others. Fish Crows eat carrion, so if you see dead birds or animals it is important to dispose of them. If a bird eats an infected bird, they can become infected with the disease too.
West Nile disease is typically spread when a mosquito bites an infected bird then bites another person, animal or bird. There is no way to know if the mosquito had West Nile. You just have to wait for the symptoms. Over 50 years ago author Rachel Carson warned that we had a good chance of losing our birds if we continued to use pesticides – Her book, “A Silent Spring” is definitely ringing true here. She may not have suspected that mosquitos would be hitching a ride across continents, but our birds are certainly dying.
What can we do to help the birds? Keep down the mosquito population. This has been a challenge this year with all of the rain. Empty any stagnant water to remove breeding grounds. Keeping your property free of pools of water will keep breeding areas to a minimum. Put up bat houses, bat's eat thousands of mosquitos and can use all the help we can give them too.