DEAR JOAN: I heard that Cal State East Bay is going to start tearing down Warren Hall on Friday. I'm worried because peregrine falcons nest there each spring and some have already returned.

Steve E.

Hayward

DEAR STEVE: Warren Hall has been classified as seismically unsound and marked for demolition, but a date has not been set for its end. The work beginning Friday is demolition of a sky bridge and shouldn't disturb the birds.

There is some question of whether the birds are nesting there. If anyone has seen them, please send me photos and eyewitness reports so we can determine what's going on.

A peregrine falcon in flight.
A peregrine falcon in flight. ( L. Todd Spencer/Virginian Pilot)

University officials have said in the past they will relocate any falcons. I'm sure they will want to take measures to protect the birds while keeping students and faculty safe, as well.

DEAR JOAN: The Creakers, a senior softball league, play at Heather Farm fields every week in Walnut Creek. Every square foot of the outfield contains goose droppings. Is avian flu a concern?

Mike R.

Danville

DEAR MIKE: Bird flu should be a concern for everyone, but the real question here is how big of a concern, and the answer is "not much of one."

The reason for concern is that experts believe a specific strain of avian flu, H5N1, has the greatest potential of triggering a pandemic. And one way or another, a pandemic of some sort is in our future. It's just a part of nature that occasionally a virus crops up to kill thousands while giving future generations a stronger immunity.

H5N1 is a likely catalyst because there are so many birds in the world and researchers believe humans have never been exposed to this strain before, making the potential for widespread death possible.

No human cases of bird flu have been reported in the United States, and you may be ankle deep in Canada goose poop, but the virus thankfully is difficult to pass to humans.

The route the flu has taken so far is from wild birds to farm-raised birds, primarily chickens. The people in Asian countries who have contracted the deadly flu got it from handling infected poultry. You can't get the bird flu from eating properly prepared poultry or eggs -- cooking kills the virus. Human-to-human infection is practically nonexistent.

I'd be more concerned about the other diseases carried in bird poop. Use precautions, such as washing your hands, and avoid handling it. Clean your equipment, shoes and uniforms, and watch where you're stepping.

DEAR JOAN: This might seem like a strange question, but as an owner of one dog and two cats it occurred to me that I could put the piles of pet hair that I brush off them outside so the birds could use it to line their nests.

Then it occurred to me that perhaps birds would not care to use the leftovers of their natural predators in their homes. Is it worthwhile to put some out for their use, or is that a crazy idea?

Tina V.

Cupertino

DEAR TINA: The birds would be very happy to have the hair for their nests, but you want to make sure it is not long hair.

Long hair and fibers can wrap about baby birds' feet and cripple them.

So if you have short-haired cats and dogs, share the warmth. Otherwise, search the Web for instructions on knitting with pet hair or stuffing pillows with it.

Joan Morris' column runs five days a week in print and online. Contact her at jmorris@bayareanewsgroup.com; or P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.