When we think about the winter settling in and the trees going dormant, the limbs, with the branches revealed suddenly the winged ones become visible. I see them darting quickly across the yard and into the gully below. All sorts. All sizes.
I don’t usually begin to feed the birds until most of the seeds on the surrounding vegetation has been depleted enough to worry there could be a scarcity of food for them, but now with fewer insects we all need to consider doing what we can to supplement and assist as we can.
You might not remember bugs smashed on your windshield after only a short trip down the highway. There was a time, it could become so greatly smeared by your wipers to almost blind you from on-coming traffic.
Have you ever even washed your windshield? Have you HAD to? In the last few decades there has been a great die-off of insects, everything from grasshoppers, butterflies, but common un-named little guys that we no longer see.
All of these were food for the birds and now without that abundance the birds are scrambling to find enough to eat.
During my lifetime the great insect die-off has been occurring. It is a thing. Called even an apocalypse with the population of insects declining throughout the world, their numbers and species plummeting, the loss is thought to even threaten the collapse of nature.
Researchers around the world are paying attention to birds. This year, Abigail Triemstra, a Masters Biology student at the University of Oklahoma is doing research and has been delivering food that my birds didn’t even conceive was for their consumption. Delicious seeds, nuts and berries, fresh and unsalted. The package, when opened was inviting. I wanted a handful, and was tempted except for the live worms. The birds love the live worms.
This summer, you might remember I spent some time and energy removing deadly Hemlock on my land before it went to seed. I was successful. But sometime this summer I failed at taking care to notice the tick attached to the back of my lower leg. After removing it, I watched the area and before too long it developed the “ring” around it that required medical attention so as to not get any of the tick diseases. One of the things I have been doing for decades has been to use what I call, “ticker-tape” to actually pull ticks off usually before they are attached, but even after they have and then folding the tape back to save it, just in case as evidence. What I have forgotten to add to the protocol has been tagging them with the date of encasement!
For months that followed, I suffered with a rash that went ballistic. Nothing worked to stop it. Night showers, cold rags, one round of steroids worked for a single day, pain meds, Benadryl, loose clothing, sleepless nights. Many trips to the clinic for advice, suggestions, other medications. Finally, I asked the physician’s assistant, who I trusted through it all, to challenge herself to look for what on earth was happening, which took me to the lab for what looked like 20 vials of blood pulled at that setting.
A few days, maybe a week later, she called to tell me I had tested positive for Alpha-gal protein and I laughed out loud, knowing that of the multitude of possible ailments that was one I could live with. My older brother hadn’t eaten meat of any sort since he was seven and my mother quit red meat 40 years before she died. The only complication was the other mammal products like CHEESE or the milk in MILK CHOCOLATE that may be nixed, too.
According to the CDC the Alpha-gal syndrome is an emerging public health problem with potentially severe health impacts that can last a lifetime. It can cause an allergic reaction to the alpha-gal sugar in meat from mammals and products made from mammals.
This tick caused condition may actually save the planet. If enough people are infected there will be less demand for cattle and hogs which some say are on the list of reasons for climate change.
We can all become more plant-based eaters and hope that we have enough of the pollinating insects left to help feed us and the birds into the future.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim