Saturday, October 6, 2007



Birds (class Aves) are bipedal, warm-blooded, egg-laying vertebrate animals. Birds evolved from theropod dinosaurs during the Jurassic period and the earliest known bird is the Late Jurassic Archaeopteryx. Ranging in size from tiny hummingbirds to the huge Ostrich and Emu, there are around 10,000 known living bird species in the world, making them the most diverse class of terrestrial vertebrates.
Modern birds are characterised by feathers, a beak with no teeth, the laying of hard-shelled eggs, a high metabolic rate, a four-chambered heart, and a lightweight but strong skeleton. All birds have forelimbs modified as wings and most can fly, though the ratites and several others, particularly endemic island species, have lost the ability to fly. Birds also have unique digestive and respiratory systems that are highly adapted for flight.
Many species of bird undertake long distance annual migrations, and many more perform shorter irregular movements. Birds are social and communicate using visual signals and through calls and song, and participate in social behaviours including cooperative hunting, cooperative breeding, flocking and mobbing of predators. Birds are primarily socially monogamous, with engagement in extra-pair copulations being common in some species—other species have polygamous or polyandrous breeding systems. Eggs are usually laid in a nest and incubated and most birds have an extended period of parental care after hatching.
Birds are economically important to humans: many are important sources of food, acquired either through hunting or farming, and they provide other products. Some species, particularly songbirds and parrots, are popular as pets. Birds figure prominently in all aspects of human culture from religion to poetry and popular music. About 120–130 species have become extinct as a result of human activity since 1600, and hundreds more before this. Currently around 1,200 species of birds are threatened with extinction by human activities and efforts are underway to protect them.

>>What is avian flu?

What is avian flu?

Avian flu describes the form of influenza viruses that ostensibly infects only birds. These can be birds that live in the wild, such as swans, ducks or geese, or birds bred in factory conditions for human consumption, such as chickens or turkeys.

It has been a known fact and for some time, that birds, in any form, appear to be widespread carriers of a many natural variations of the flu virus, Experts calculate that there may be as many as fifteen different varieties of influenza affecting the bird population of the globe.

These forms of flu are generally pretty mild, and rarely display symptoms or cause widespread fatalities. However, and especially when the birds are bred in close proximity to one and other in an enclosed environment, there are some forms of flu viruses that are both highly contagious and especially viral in their form.

Known as "highly pathogenic avian influenza" these epidemics can cause widespread fatalities in a bird population in a matter of hours. One particularly viral form of avian flu has been active in Asia intermittently for the last decade. In 1997, when this form of avian flu was first detected. researchers were both surprised and alarmed to discover that this was a virus which had the ability and could occasionally infect humans. Almost without exception, the cases reported were among people who were handling live chickens or turkeys in coups. Known in scientific circles as "species jumping" there arose a genuine fear that an avian flu virus bearing highly pathogenic characteristics could be merged with an influenza virus in human form.

That this virus was shown to be fatal in most cases to the avian populations meant that the greatest fears of researchers into the spread of a pandemic that would affect both birds and humans as one.

If this were to happen, the result could be a global flu pandemic that would make the previous one that took place almost one hundred years previously seem like a picnic. Known as the Spanish pandemic of 1918-1919, it saw the deaths of between 20 and 40 million people.

This was more than the recently ended World War One. The Spanish Flue Pandemic is generally regarded as the most devastating epidemic in world history to date. Bearing in mind that this pandemic took place before international travel was commonplace and was confined mainly to Europe, if there were to a be global avian flu pandemic in the 21st century the consequential loss of life could have been indeed catastrophic.

In order to contain the spread of the pandemic, initially many of the Asian countries were required to cull entire poultry stocks. However there was little to be done to prevent the disease from spreading through wild fowl and these were found to be the principal carriers and spreaders of the virus.

So how does the avian flu spread to humans? Theory has it that if a person, who is suffering from a human viral flu, comes into contact with a bird who is suffering from avian flu, there is a remote possibility that the two strains may combine to create a new strain that will be based on the avian flu virus. This would mean that the avian flu’s highly pathogenic characteristics could be passed on to humans, both rapidly and with the capability of causing tremendous and widespread fatalities.

Thankfully, till now, this has not been the case. There have been human fatalities from avian flu, but they have been numbered in the low hundreds in total over the last ten years. And the Avian Flu viruses (i.e. H5N1, H7N3 have still been contained in people who have been in daily contact with live poultry.

The symptoms of avian flu are similar to human flu, and they are a high fever, a dry cough, sore throat and aching muscles. In advanced forms of avian flu, the patient may experience problems with breathing that can develop into pneumonia. This form of complication, in many cases, can prove fatal.

The threat of a pandemic of avian flu affecting humans has not yet happened. Scientists have not dismissed the likelihood of this happening in the future. All that it would take would be a chain of events that theoretically could occur but are unlikely to do so. People who travel to the far eastern countries should avoid contact with people who are involved in the poultry industry, especially if they are suffering from influenza. An unfortunate chain of events like that could spark of a global avian influenza pandemic.

Frank j Vanderlugt owns and operates 2 Avianflusymptonscom
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By: Frank Vanderlugt

>>About Avian Flu Birds

About Avian Flu Birds

Avian flu is commonly called bird flu. It is an infection that occurs naturally in birds. The virus is carried by wild birds in their intestines. The wild birds rarely get sick from the virus. It is however very contagious among domesticated birds like chickens, ducks and turkeys. It can make them very sick, very quickly and usually leads to death.

The virus comes in two forms. One is a low impact variety that usually goes undetected. The domestic birds show little change. The high impact form spreads quickly through a domestic flock. The virus attacks internal organs and the infected birds are usually dead within two days.

The virus spreads through domestic birds quickly because the birds are typically held in close contact with each other. The saliva and feces spread the virus from one bird to the next. Common areas like water and feed supplies often become contaminated and accelerate the spread of the disease.

Typically avian flu does not transfer from birds to people. But in recent years there have been more than 100 confirmed cases of human infection by the World Health Organization. The flu spreads to people in much the same way it spreads to other birds. The humans that were infected had contact with the infected chickens, ducks or turkeys or contaminated surfaces. Transfer from one infected person to another is luckily very rare.

Avian flu symptoms are very much like normal human strains of the flu and include fever, cough, sore throat and muscle aches. Additional symptoms vary based on the specific strain of the virus that caused the infection. A lab test is needed to confirm if the person is suffering from avian flu or just a normal human strain.

While this may not sound like a serious problem, health official are very concerned about avian flu being transmitted to humans even in small numbers. The risk is that the virus will adapt over time to a form that is highly contagious among humans just like it is now among domestic birds. Additionally all viruses are a concern because they can become resistant to drugs and harder to treat.

Currently in the U.S., there is no risk of avian flu. There is no concern about eating properly cooked eggs and poultry. There is no need to wear a surgical mask when around large groups of people. It is also considered safe to maintain a flock of chickens for personal egg production.

As a precaution you should avoid contact with any wild bird. Do not attempt to touch a diseased or dead bird. You can contact your local government for proper removal of the dead bird. Often the bird will be sent for testing to determine if any disease was present.

Hunters should exercise caution when dealing with game birds. They should never handle or eat sick birds. When cleaning the bird, latex gloves should be worn. The knives, surfaces and other equipment should be cleaned with soap and water. Hunters should not drink, eat or smoke while handling the birds. This could easily transfer contamination to the mouth. All game birds should be cooked thoroughly.
frank j vanderlugt owns and operates 2 Avianflusymptonsnowcom

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By: Frank Vanderlugt

>>How to Keep Your Pet Birds Safe at Home

How to Keep Your Pet Birds Safe at Home

Many of us have heard stories about birds outlasting their owners. This is a surprise to many, considering the delicate appearance of most species of birds. Birds, especially canaries, were used by miners to test the quality of the air deep in the mines. When the air reaches relatively unhealthy levels, the canaries are affected adversely and succumb to the fatal effects. This gives miners ample warning before the air became fatal for humans. This shows the keen perception of birds.

Pet birds are easily affected by unwholesome smells, similar to wild birds. Many household items, Teflon pans, aerosol sprays and even furniture polish, can be lethal to birds. One of the best practices when dealing with substances that may give off pungent odors is to use it in airy areas far away from your birds.

Pet birds have a natural inclination to chomp and it can be a major issue. When a bird chomps on soldered joints on welded items, lead poisoning is a common result. Also, birds do have a penchant to chew on potted plants. Despite popular sentiments, poinsettia plants are not deadly. It is better to be safe than sorry so do err on the side of caution should you be uncertain if a plant is poisonous for your pet bird and remove it from the reach of your pet. A small pot of innocuous parsley can be helpful to the bird to overcome the desire of nibbling on houseplants as it is a safe substitute.

Fresh food that is fed to your birds will do them a whole lot of good; however, food like coffee, chocolate and avocado are fatal for birds and they should never be given such foods.

As the holiday season approaches, most people will bring a tree into their house. Many might think that a bird's natural habitat is a tree and have the belief that their birds will have an affinity for perching on it. It is true that birds might enjoy this exercise, many pine trees could have had preservatives or chemicals administered and prove fatal to your pet. Furthermore, electrical lights and decorations can be pose a certain kind of danger for your birds.

There are a number of precautionary issues to see to if your bird does not have had its wings clipped. First, all windows and glass doors should be covered in some way. A good bet is achieved by blinds, shades or curtains. Placing safety decals on windows and glass is another option, besides curtains or blinds, to alert the bird that the glass is there and help avoid serious or fatal accidents. You should treat other large reflective surfaces and mirrors in a similar manner when your pet bird is released from its cage.

Standing water can pose as a form of danger as well. The bird can meet its untimely end in a toilet bowl or full kitchen sink in a few seconds. Cooking while a bird is out of its cage is not advised, especially if you have an uncovered pot on the stove.

Finally, always be mindful of the whereabouts of your bird even if its wings are clipped. Even a bird with clipped wings can soar for a considerable distance if there is an upward breeze. It is easy to forget that your bird is perched on your shoulder when your doorbell suddenly rings and you rush to answer it but you must remember never to carry your bird to an open door regardless of whether or not its wings are clipped.
Moses Wright has been a bird lover since young and now he loves to help fellow bird owners solve their bird care problems and other house pet care problems whenever he can on his site:

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By: Moses Wright