‘Little Princess’ and the Bird Flu Mysteries: Tracking the Spread of Avian Influenza

When bird flu reached Turkey, experts thought it was carried from Russia by migrating geese or ducks. So when wild birds migrate to Germany this spring, will they bring the disease with them? Not necessarily, say scientists.

Michael Kaatz, who works for a stork reserve in the eastern German city of Loburg, can see the headlines now: “Little Princess Brings Bird Flu to Germany.” Right now, the stork “Little Princess,” the reserve’s pride and joy, is probably flying over Botswana. But soon enough she will be traveling on to South Africa, where she will spend the winter. And, more importantly, at the end of February, the celebrity stork will begin the trek home. Kaatz, who for the past few years has been using a satellite to track her migration routes, will be closely watching where she flies.

According to Kaatz, the stork will stop over in Turkey before it gets back home to Saxony-Anhalt in eastern Germany. And in Turkey, of course, bird flu is rife. Which  means that Little Princess, who will be flying with several thousand other white storks on the way back to Germany, will be closely watched by virus experts. … More


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