Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Big Problem for Birds...

To my knowledge it had only ever been a Chipping Sparrow and a Hermit Thrush. Both were stunned, so I kept them inside until they fully recovered. There could have been others over the years, perhaps discovered by a roaming cat and too stunned to flee - leaving no evidence except maybe a few feathers. But when I found a dead American Robin beneath our front picture windows after hearing a loud thud, and held its warm, lifeless body in my hands…I was so angry with myself. I decided it was time to stop thinking about our view from inside our house.

I asked Cindy Mead of Woodsong Blog what she uses and highly recommended birdscreen. Since installing it, we haven't had a single "thud", stunned bird or bird killed from a window collision. In fact, I once observed a House Finch go full throttle into one of the side windows - the birdscreen completely absorbed the impact and the finch flew away unharmed, just as the makers of the product testify on their website:

"I have had these screens in place on our home since November 2001 and have not had a single fatality (or injured bird) that we know of. We have seen birds fly into the screens, bounce off, and resume whatever activity they were doing before with no apparent harm."

Looking at these photographs of our windows, you can see why collisions are so common. Coming in from the front yard (top photograph), it looks like a bird could perch nicely into that beautiful tree in the reflection. But birds don't understand what windows are - all they see is the tree and blue sky and head straight for it.

Today on Wisconsin Public Radio:

"The greatest single risk for birds isn't feral cats... it's window strikes. After eleven, Larry Meiller talks about the issue of birds hitting windows with Noel Cutright of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology."

By the time you read this, the radio program will probably have already aired, but it should eventually appear on Larry Meiller's archives at Wisconsin Public Radio website.

Estimates are between 100 million and 1 billion birds collide into windows (houses and buildings) each year. This is a huge problem and there's something we all can do about it. I put feeders and birdbaths out to attract birds, now it's my responsibility to keep them clean and to make sure flyways through my yard are safe.

Link: Tips from Laura Erickson

Link: Graph - What's killing birds?


Link: Photos/Tips from Cindy Mead

All images © 2006 Mike McDowell

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