med frontal crane
“Cranes could bring bird flu”
http://www.nptelegraph.com/site/ news.cfm?newsid=17513549&BRD=377&PAG=461&dept_id=531813&rfi=6

Highly pathogenic avian flu is unlikely to come via cranes (read the story to find out more) but fears certainly could. Let’s hope people use the migrations as a reminder to prepare for pandemics and other disasters, as well as for the millenia-old inspiration and aesthetics.

Fears of bird flu span the globe on cranes’ wings
By MARGERY BECK, The Associated Press
Published: November 26, 2006 (read story here)

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — In any given spring, curious motorists can be seen pulling over along Interstate 80 to gawk at the 500,000 or so sandhill cranes that stop along the Platte River in Nebraska on their way to the northern climes of Canada, Alaska and Siberia.

…The cranes normally begin arriving in Nebraska in mid-February and leave by about mid-April.

The typical stay for the cranes in central Nebraska is three to four weeks. The birds fatten up on corn left in fields, insects and other grain as they travel from their winter grounds in the southern United States and Mexico to their summer grounds in Alaska, Canada and Siberia…..

…there is no way to know whether [H5N1] will spread in great numbers to humans or domesticated fowl.

“Forest fires don’t know how big they are when they start,” Peterson said. “You could be the world’s expert on matches, but it won’t allow you to predict which dropped match will start the big fire.

“People tend to have an approach to the world that says big results come from big causes,” he added. “That generally isn’t the case. Big forest fires are not caused by really big matches.”…

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