Friday, November 16, 2007

(Don't) Come to My Window

As many homeowners know, especially those with bird feeders near a room with a view, birds colliding with windows is rarely a good thing. There are the lucky birds that are merely stunned and eventually recover, but a majority of birds don't survive the strike. A perpetual question in the bird feeding world is what we can do about it.

A mid-September victim of a window kill in Rochester, NY.
I'll leave it to the readers to provide the bird's identity.
A second image appears below.

Moving your feeders, if you feed, is a good start, but it's not uncommon for a bird that was just passing through to hit a window that was mistaken for open sky. And forget about a panicked bird trying to escape an Accipter. In the split second they have to decide, they'll blindly go wherever looks promising at first glance, whether it's truly what they perceive, or merely a reflection.

Netting pulled taught over a windows bounces the bird (relatively) harmlessly, the impact isn't fatal. Many homeowners, however, don't want this unsightly blemish on their house.

How is this for a blemish? Imagine this
as a daily scene under your windows!

David Sibley, author of one of the most popular field guides to birds, decided to try do something about the birds attracted to his feeders that were also attracted to his windows. And not only is it very clever (ingenious, we'll wait and see), but the great part is David is blogging about the experiment as it continues. Rather than wait for the peer-reviewed finished product, we can not only learn how well it's working for his family, but he invites you to try it, too, and share your results.

A July window strike at our place in the Southern Tier. We don't feed in
the summer, and this is not a feeder bird. Additionally, the window it hit
was on the opposite side of the house from the feeding station.

Another view - any guesses as to the identity?

Last year we added not-too-obvious (to us) stickers to the windows overlooking the feeders. They are designed to break up the reflection of field, forest, and sky, driving home the point that this is not safe passage. Since those additions we're happily not hearing the heart-dropping "thumps that used to be a regular part of winter. Maybe David's idea will be the easier, less visually intrusive, and best of all, the most successful method yet.

Post title apologies: Come to my Window (1994), Melissa Etheridge.


mon@rch said...

The bottom bird appears to be an Ovenbird! But the top bird isn't that easy of an identification! My first guess would have been a young common yellowthroat but something doesn't look right with the amount of yellow on its underside! Looking closer, I think I can see something around its eye but hard to tell from the photo! If it does have a yellow eyering, this bird could be a young Kentucky warbler! I will try pulling out a few other books but not sure if I could really identify this top bird without seeing it up close! Sorry!

noflickster said...

Hi mon@rch,

My apologies that photos aren't better, I wish I had taken more to present a variety. I brought these birds into the Lab for the collections, and didn't think to take better/more photographs before I stuck them in my freezer. At the last minute I did a hurried "photo shoot" on my desk just before I brought them to the collections - I can't believe I didn't think to photograph them when I could have posed them better (hard to do with a frozen bird!), and created better conditions for shooting them. If I have occasion to do this again I'll think well ahead.

Bottom bird is certainly an Ovenbird, I didn't capture its head well at all with the characteristic orange crown bounded by black stripes. Obviously, enough other features for your correct identification.

The other bird stumped me a bit (admittedly, I didn't break out a field guide to really nail and ID). I asked the collections manager to let me know what their conclusion was when they prepped the bird. It came down to a "4 out of 5 said it is a . . ." - I'll be mean and leave it unidentified for a bit longer before I pass on their ID.

Thanks for your comments, your observations (amount of yellow, eye ring) are very good, especially with the quality of the photos.


mon@rch said...

I think you gave me the answer without coming right out with the answer! It was a tough one for sure!

The Zen Birdfeeder said...

Very interesting post and thank you for the link to the Sibley experiment.
I lost a Hermit Thrush last year to a window strike and immediately added Feather Guards that have reduced - but not eliminated - strikes, and have made them less fatal (1 in the last year).

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