On the ride home yesterday I saw a dead crow lying next to the bike path. My first thought was, "Man, how sad. Crows are so awesome."
My next thought was, "Dead Crow. Holy crap - WEST NILE VIRUS."
Being a good citizen I stopped, went back to the bird, and dialed City Services (Chicago has this excellent line -311; you call it for anything you need regarding city services and they connect you to the right place. It rocks.)
I got Mr Price, and explained that I was standing over a dead crow and I didn't know whether the city was tracking or testing them.
"You have a dead-bird report?" he asked. "I'll put you through to the right department."
I had a feeling I was being sent to the "Come clean up the roadkill in front of my house" department, when what I really wanted was the State Epidemiology lab, the forensics lab, the CDC, INTERPOL, SOME crisis-response team STAT, because what I had at my feet was no hit-and run-over pigeon; this was a dead CROW, and it was not near traffic. It was intact, no obvious damage to its body, and dead. Very sadly dead. I took in its black feet and shiny beak, the red of its eyes, half-closed in death, while I was on hold. If this crow died because of West Nile, by God, I was going to help track down its killer. This crow would not go unavenged on MY watch.
Finally, a person came on, I gave the location of the crow, and kept saying "West Nile virus," but I wasn't sure the girl registered the importance of my call. My very important, civic-minded call.
I rode again today. The crow was still there.