Tuesday, June 01, 2004

I Was Too Quick
I get viruses in my email. Some days I get more than one virus. My Norton 2003 Antivirus software is very important to me.

A few months ago during the big sasser virus scare, I decided I needed a firewall in addition to my Norton. Zone Alarm was highly recommended and free, so I downloaded version 4.5 and installed it. It worked great.

Last week I had a window pop up telling me that Zone Alarm 5.0 was ready for me to download for even greater security. Since I wasn't too busy that day, I downloaded it and installed it, thereby breaking one of my cardinal rules of life: Never be among the first to install a new version of software.

Over the weekend I noticed that I was getting viruses in my mailbox and the Norton window was not popping up saying it took care of them. My incoming email was not getting scanned and my outgoing email was not getting scanned. Very bad.

Today I went to the Zone Alarm website and found that they are having major problems with their new version 5.0 working with major virus protection packages. The fix - uninstall 5.0 and reinstall 4.5.

And, next time don't be in such a hurry.

I Was Too Slow
It's been so cold and rainy that I haven't monitored the nest boxes as often as I would like. It's better for the eggs and birds if the boxes stay shut in weather like this.

It wasn't until this morning that I verified beyond a doubt that the nest in the slotted box was a house sparrow nest, and one of the eggs had hatched. I left it and came back to the house. I don't wince at throwing out sparrow eggs, but killing a baby bird goes against the grain.

According to the North American Bluebird Society

"It is the responsibility of every nest box trail operator to ensure that no house sparrows fledge from their boxes. It is better to have no nest box than to have one which fledges sparrows."
I forced myself to remember the carnage I found a few years ago when a house sparrow killed and beheaded a beautiful male bluebird in order to claim the bluebird's nest box. This evening I went back to the nest box, removed the sparrow nest with two hatchlings, and set it on the ground for the blue racer's dinner. It had to be done.

House Sparrows Are Not Real Sparrows
The common sparrow that we call house sparrow or English sparrow is not really a sparrow at all. It's a member of the weaver finch family. They were brought to this country from England in 1853 and have agressively displaced many native songbirds.

There are twenty species of real sparrows in Michigan. At Violet Acres we have chipping sparrows, song sparrows, white-crowned sparrows, and probably others. They are beautiful little birds with a happy song. I love seeing them. And, if I were to see their nest, I would protect it.