Several common species of North American birds have suffered drastic population declines since the arrival of the West Nile virus eight years ago, a new study has found.Crows are amazing birds, with complex social interactions and a keen intelligence that tops the avian world. Robins live almost exclusively on the insects that make going outdoors on a muggy summer evening a little less heavenly. Blue jays are mean pursuers of formidable bugs like wasps and bees. Wrens fly with an awing dexterity. The hit taken by the other songbirds listed means the sounds flowing in through the open window on a crisp spring morning are becoming a little less sweet.
Of the 20 species included in the study, American crows were the hardest hit, declining about 45 percent overall from 1998 to 2005. Populations of American robins, chickadees, eastern bluebirds, blue jays, tufted titmice and house wrens also dropped.
The culprits are mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus, one of several diseases that has recently begun calling the US "home" (it was introduced domestically in the late nineties after hitching a ride on a travelling creature from Uganda) thanks to the free-flow of people and stuff into the country that our elites love so much.
With apologies to Peter Singer, I am a speciest. I want a counter-strike against mosquitoes. Time to lift the misguided ban on DDT. Bald Eagles have made a comeback. The possibility of a few frail eggs is a price worth paying to help sustain several members of the stuff raptors love to eat.
I don't expect any help from the environmentalist movement, which is too morally bankrupt to advocate a reduction in the inflow of people into the US and who are also irrationally opposed to other things beneficial to the quality of life for humans and the natural environment alike, such as nuclear power.
But I do have faith in the reslience of our avian pals, with the help of natural selection. Such a severe reduction in these birds' numbers makes it almost inevitable that resistance to West Nile virus is being selected for. There is already evidence that wrens and bluejays have turned the corner. I expect the others to follow suit. It's just a matter of how long it will take.