Bird Migrations, Backyard Chickens & Avian Flu

This summer I was asked to register my “flock” (Do four birds qualify as a flock?) with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture as a prophylactic against threats of Avian Flu. I did so, but worried at the time what it might mean. Recently I was contacted by the NCDA which advised that the threat had passed. Then only days later, another contact telling me of another, more virulent, virus threat.

Avian flu has not yet migrated humans, so the threat is monitored by the US Dept of Ag, not the CDC. Their mission is to prevent the wholesale epidemics in the poultry business that have affected other countries. Although I am not a commercial poultry farmer, I am sympathetic, even though evidence of a local contamination would mean loss of my girls as a preventative. Why? Because of the way Avian Flu is primarily spread — though migratory birds.

Cornell University has been conducted a Backyard Bird Watch utilizing about a million volunteers, of which I have been one. Watchers record the date, time and type of bird seen in their backyard, along with notations about their environs. This information has been invaluable to scientists not only in charting the dwindling numbers of our favorite songbirds, but in mapping migrations which have been demonstrating anomalies due, it is thought, to climate change.

The result is a fabulous graphic showing the year round migratory paths. Enjoy!