How About Those Birds?
in 1999. Since then, it has spread to almost all the lower 48 states.
WNV is carried by birds and transmitted by mosquitoes that have fed on infected birds. Members of the crow family, such as American crows and blue jays, seem to be the most likely to die from WNV. However, some individuals may carry the virus and show no symptoms.
We do not yet know the full implications of WNV for birds, though some localized population declines have been documented. Species with larger populations and those that have more young are more likely to rebound.
Data collected from Great Britain suggests that bird populations there have built up immunity to a similar virus over time. Perhaps our birds will develop some immunity to WNV. However, we won’t know the full impact on birds for some time.
Q: I found a baby bird on the ground. What should I do?
A: The best thing to do is to leave the bird alone. It likely is a fledgling that is learning how to fly. Although the bird may look stranded, in most cases it should soon make a wobbly flight.
It is always best not to interfere, though you should keep pets and children away from the bird. If you must move it, use gloves and relocate it to a nearby shrub or thick patch of weeds.
Q: What is the best food for hummingbirds and how long should I feed them?
A: Several varieties of hummingbird food are available at most large grocery stores. You also can make your own hummingbird food by adding one part sugar to four to five parts water and bringing it to a boil. Red food coloring is unnecessary. Let the mixture cool before putting it in your feeder, and refrigerate any extra for future use.
It is best to place your feeder at least 6 feet off the ground in an open but not too sunny spot. Clean it every few days with a diluted bleach solution to kill mold.
You also can attract hummingbirds by planting trumpet creeper, royal catchfly or other native plants with red flowers.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds begin to arrive in Missouri each year between mid and late April and typically begin to depart in early October. By mid-October, most hummingbirds are gone from Missouri. If you choose to keep your feeder up longer, you may attract rare, late visitors, such as rufous hummingbirds.
Q: A bird is attacking my window. How