Besides being a journalist, artist and runner, I am a wildlife rehabber and lifelong birder. It's the journalist, rehabber and birder in me that drew me to the 2014-2015 U.S. avian influenza epidemic, which lead to the combined death and euthanasia of almost 50 million chickens, turkeys and other domestic fowl nationwide. With keen interest, I pursued this story across the country.
With my knowledge of wildlife, I had known that avian influenza in poultry and avian influenza in wild migratory birds are tightly related. In fact, transmission of the virus between both groups of birds occurs rapidly. While most news media had focused on the poultry side of the story, I sought to learn more specifically about avian influenza in wildlife. To do so, I shadowed wildlife health scientists in the lab and in the field, interviewed poultry industry representatives and analyzed piles of studies and data.