Avert Tragedy in the Wildlife Garden

This tale was originally published by Loret T. Setters on  February 18, 2011 at the defunct national blog beautifulwildlifegarden[dot]com. Click the date to view reader comments and find working links to other stories.

My heart sank with this most unwelcoming sight
My heart sank with this most unwelcoming sight

I heard the thump. I opened the door to the welcome mat filled will the most unwelcoming pile of feathers and my heart sank. Based on the small size of the feathers and the coloring, I started poking around the patio for the remains of a brown-headed nuthatch. Very upset, I searched but found nothing. My thoughts were for the other bird…would they be without a mate? They have been working so diligently at the Pine snag forming numerous holes and I had just seen them bringing in nesting materials to fill one of those holes. The next morning I heard a familiar squeak, but only saw one of the two.

Bird can run into windows, often when they see through to the other side such as when there are windows that align on both sides of a home. Reflection of habitat is another cause of collision, as is being startled.

Audubon offers many solutions and outlines the effectiveness of each toward Minimizing Window Collisions, including feeder
placement and use of drapes, decals and similar window add-ons.

Cornell offers tips on what to do if you find a victim of a window collision. If it is obviously injured, get it to a rehab facility. Today would be a good day to look up where the nearest facility is in your area so you are ready in case of tragedy. If the bird is just stunned, place it in a covered shoebox and leave it alone for 15 minutes. Darkness helps calm birds. If it is extremely cold, take it inside. After the 15 minutes, take the box outside and remove the lid. If the bird flies off…GREAT. If not, cover it and try again in another 15 minutes or so. If  you are still without success, take it to a rehabilitation hospital.

This shot from April 2010 shows birdy reaching in to make a hole in the snag
This shot from April 2010 shows birdy reaching in to make a hole in the snag

The good news is that I needed neither a burial nor a rehab facility. By late afternoon the day after, my two birds are back at the snag. I believe the crash took place because there is a lot of territorial fighting during this time of year…mating season…and the snag is just about 25 feet or so from the patio. Since the crash I’ve witness the wrangling in flight of these birds and they pay little attention to where they are headed as they tumble through the air. I’m just grateful that tragedy was averted.

Brown-headed nuthatch comes out to toss wood chip
Brown-headed nuthatch comes out to toss wood chip

Take time to try and protect our wildlife friends with the above tips. You can find decals by putting “bird collision decals” in your search engine. There are many shapes and sizes and you place them on the OUTSIDE of windows. Some are designed to be almost transparent from the inside of your home. Help prevent some of the estimated 1 billion birds killed in the United States due to window collisions as the birds return this spring.

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