Test Your Knowledge Of Literature’s Greatest Bird Flu Scares

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Identify the work of literature in which each bird flu scare appears:

A. A seagull’s unnatural behavior leads to fears that it is infected with avian flu. Previously ostracized by the flock, the gull returns showing signs that it has visited a higher plane of existence, and now has the power to move instantaneously to any point in the universe. While this ability makes it “a one-in-a-million bird,” the other gulls grudgingly acknowledge that it is not normally an indicator of infection.

B. A sailor kills a suspicious albatross with an arrow, but does more harm than good, as all of his shipmates drop dead en masse soon after. Later he is eager to tell his story to anyone who will listen, but cagily sidesteps the question of whether bird flu played a role in the tragedy.

C. The deaths of several people in San Francisco are thought to be the direct result of close contact with a falcon. Investigators subsequently discover that the so-called “black bird” is actually an inanimate figurine and thus incapable of transmitting an active virus. The coroner’s finding that the victims were riddled with bullets also helps rule out avian flu as the cause of death.

D. A man complains to authorities that a raven has taken up residence in his house and refuses to leave. He reports that the bird is behaving suspiciously, repeating the word “Nevermore” over and over. Police determine that the subject is despondent over the recent death of a loved one and dismiss him as a crank.

E. A violent assault by birds on an isolated farm is only the first in a growing number of incidents in which masses of birds attack populated areas. Scientists acknowledge that birds possess a capacity for uninhibited ferocity and outnumber humans by an overwhelming margin. As the attacks become more frequent, it becomes a mathematical certainty that birds will wipe out mankind in a matter of days. On the plus side, none of the birds appears to be infected with avian flu as originally feared.

F. A pirate’s parrot called Captain Flint, previously known to say only “pieces of eight,” suddenly announces “I feel kind of punk” and lies down complaining of body aches and fever. Within thirty minutes it is dead.

Answers: A: Jonathan Livingston Seagull; B: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner; C: The Maltese Falcon; D: The Raven; E: The Birds; F: Treasure Island

Watch for our next quiz, Test Your Knowledge of Literature’s Greatest Global Warming Scares.

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