Window collisions take so many birds’ lives. You hope it won’t happen to you. Well, it happened to me the other day. Here is my story.
That Ominous Thud
The morning started out like any other. My wife and I were enjoying our morning coffee and watching “Leave It To Beaver” reruns on MeTV. It was a cold but bright morning. The birds had already started feeding in the back yard. The goldfinches were bellying up to the sunflower chip filled chickadee feeder hanging just outside our back door. Everything was just as it should be. A window collision was the furthest thing from my mind.
We’ve all heard it and dread it. You know what I’m talking about. You try to follow the rules for reducing window strikes. You can’t do all of it but you believe you’ve covered most of the bases. Still, every now and then you have to hear that thud . The thud that tells you one of your back yard visitors may not be around much longer. You get a sick feeling whenever you hear it.
That’s what I had to hear this morning. The next thing I knew, I was tending to a young female cardinal. It didn’t look promising from the start.
Dazed and Confused
All of you who’ve had window strikes also know that look the birds have right after it happens. That’s if they aren’t killed immediately.
This female cardinal was no different. She was fluttering against the sliding glass door until she finally grabbed on to the screen of our windows and just held on for dear life. The look in her eyes told me she needed and was asking for my help. I know this sounds “woo-woo” to anybody who doesn’t believe that animals and humans can communicate with energy but that’s how I felt it. So, I decided to act on it.
Are You OK? Can I Help You?
First of all, I have to apologize for not getting a picture of this creature in my hand. I know it would have made a viral pic for bird lovers everywhere. There just wasn’t enough time and I really believed she needed my help more than her picture taken. I also realize this takes something away from the credibility thing. If you’ve been reading me long enough, you know I’m NOT about spotlight grabbing or nonsense. I try to be the best bird landlord I can and taking care of a tenant in need just surpasses all other considerations.
I walked outside and just looked at her. She was not in any shape to go anywhere. At least not yet. I spoke to her and she didn’t seem fazed by it but she was able to hold a gaze toward me. That was the first good sign I saw.
I continued speaking to her so she could get used to my voice. I made sure not to speak too loudly or to fast. I tried to keep the pitch down as well. She seemed comforted by my words and voice. She held onto the screen and just looked at me. I was worried when I saw her eyes closing a bit as I know that’s not a good sign. However, it made me feel better that she kept paying attention to me even if she was just assessing the threat. That meant at least some brain functions were still intact.
Let Me Look At You
After a little while, I wanted to have a closer look at her to see if she was going to be ok. Before you say it, let me tell you I know most of the time it’s best to leave them be. However, I was concerned that she had gotten caught on the screen and might hurt herself trying to get free. So, I walked over to her, slid my hand over her slowly and carefully and removed her from the screen. The next positive sign I had was she was able to perch on my fingers in my palm. She also stopped closing her eyes. I kept speaking to her and within a few minutes she was reacting to each sentence I started. Another great sign.
She never broke her gaze until she started looking around. I knew this was another very good sign. Awareness of surroundings.
Soon, she was looking like a bird I had trained to land in my hand just hanging out and enjoying the view.
Over Before I Knew It
By this time, I had almost stopped speaking to her because I didn’t want to scare her away until she was ready to fly.
So, I just whispered to her that she was going to be ok and she could stay as long as she liked. Less than two minutes later, she hopped off my hand and made a perfect landing on the top of my fence.
I couldn’t have been any happier if I tried!
I’d Still Trade That Experience If I Could
She had sustained a trauma a lot of birds don’t get to. I had a once in a lifetime experience with the last bird on the hand feeding list. I got to look into her precious eyes and see life coming back to them. I got to be a part of nature’s miracle and it touched me deeply.
However, if I could turn back time and get her to not make the decision to flee towards that window, I would gladly exchange that experience for her!
As I am somebody who tries to learn something from every experience I have, I want to honor her gift to me by reminding you of some window collision dos and don’ts.
Quick Window Collision Guide
Over the fifteen plus years I’ve been feeding birds in my back yard, I’ve seen a LOT of advice about reducing window strikes. Depending on the publication and year it went from practical to outright insane.
I’m going to give you a short list from some recent articles I’ll site below. Help me reduce the number of window collisions that happen each year!
Remember, up to one BILLION birds die in the US each year due to window collisions!
Top Five Things You Can Do
The linked articles below give many recommendations for different things you can try. Especially if you have a lot of trouble with this. Let me give you five things I’ve done that have worked for me.
- Make sure your feeders are not too close or too far away. In my experience, you’ll have way more trouble with feeders that are CLOSER than the recommended 30 feet distance than further away.
- Use blinds in all your windows and keep them at least half drawn throughout the day. Helps save on cooling and doesn’t let them see a clear path through your home.
- Use vertical blinds with sliding glass doors and keep them half drawn as well if at all possible. You will notice a difference even if they are not drawn but why risk it?
- If you have a patio and you ground feed either do it very close to the house or don’t ground feed. When scared, it seems like your house is the first exit they find.
- If you have a cat, keep it indoors. Cats allowed to roam outside represent probably the largest threat to birds anyways. Why add another reason for your birds to scatter?
Let Me Hear From YOU!
I’d like to know if this article was helpful but I’d also like to know how you’ve reduced/eliminated window strikes at your house. Leave me a comment below so we can all benefit from your wisdom and experience! Don’t forget to share this post on your favorite social media channel if you think somebody else could benefit from it.