Monday, July 12, 2010
I'm seeing dead birds
I wouldn't recommend reading this over breakfast, as it is about dead birds and clueless people at town hall.
When we came home from our vacation two Fridays ago, we found a dead bird under the front bumper of the car in our driveway. Dave disposed of it (he comes in handy that way). Jill over at Scary Mommy accidentally let a few baby birds into her kitchen last week, and I was like, wow, that's crazy, but it's better than having a dead bird welcome you home from vaca.
Last Friday, Sabrina was playing outside and came running in. "There's a deaded bird!" she announced. "And bugs are eating him!" Sure enough, there was a dead baby bird on our front walkway. It looked like the one above only...deaded.
I am not typically the type to freak out about West Nile Virus (transmitted by mosquitos, carried by birds), but two dead birds in two weeks is weird; we've lived here for eight years without a single bird tragedy. I asked Dave to store the bird in something so we could get it to the health department, why he chose my best Tupperware container I can't be sure. He put it in the wood bin where we keep recyclables.
This morning, I went outside before work to take some pictures of these irises because flowers I grow never look this good, typically because they get run over by the kids. As I headed back in, I spotted a little bird sitting on our walkway. My heart sank. "Please don't be dead, please don't be dead," I muttered as I walked around him.
He looked like the other baby bird, and he was in the exact same spot. Could they be related? I thought. Is he paying a condolence call? Was I having a Sixth Sense moment and seeing dead birds? But, no, the little guy was alive. He blinked at me, then stood up and waddled off into the bushes. Clearly, he was ailing. I did the mature thing and ran inside.
As I walked to work, I put in a call to town hall. First I left a message for the guy who runs the health department, then I got some woman from pest control on the line. I told her what was going on.
"We test the water in the city for the presence of West Nile Virus," she said.
"That's great!" I said. "But I have had two dead birds on my property in two weeks, and one about to kick the bucket. I think something may be up."
"Well, we've tested the water for West Nile," she repeated.
"OK! But I think the health department might want to test the bird we saved."
"You have to get it to them within 12 hours or they can't test it," she told me.
"OK, then, we can't test the dead bird. But don't you think someone might just want to come check our property and see what's going on and maybe check in on the sick bird?"
"We've tested the water for West Nile," she said, and by then I'd realized I might as well have gotten a pre-recorded message.
Later, I sent an email to the mayor. The head nurse for the health department called soon after. The Board of Health official I left a message for is on vacation for two weeks. "But we've tested the water for West Nile and you'll be happy to know it's negative!" she chirped.
By this point, I was getting a wee bit wrought. "WE'VE HAD DEAD BIRDS!!!" I said. She agreed to consult with the "supervising" health official and get back to me tomorrow. How much would you like to bet they are going to tell me they have tested the water? On the Center for Disease Control's West Nile Virus page, "Fight the Bite!", there is some good, helpful information on battling mosquitos, but there is not a single tip on how to deal with town hall people.
I get home from work and do that one eye open/one eye closed/please don't let me see anything awful thing as I walk into the house. It does the trick because I don't spot any dead birds, although I do nearly kill myself by tripping up the stairs. I go outside, shove the poor Tupperwared bird into two garbage bags and beg Dave to get rid of it (I think he may have a future in that). Then I spray the entire wooden bin with Method Pink Grapefruit Cleaner, because that's pretty much the answer to everything. While I am doing this, I get a bunch of mosquito bites, thereby ensuring my candidacy for West Nile Virus.
As I head back inside, I notice these huge black carpenter ants scurrying around our back porch.
And now I am wondering why we ever decided to move out of the city.