Another stunned visitor…

Rose-breasted Grosbeak - Pheucticus ludovicianus

A new use for my macro lens. Perhaps I should start a new bird photography genre…macro bird photography. The problem? You have to be within 12 inches to get a photo like this. Another problem? Unfortunately, it seems a couple times a week I’m likely to get an opportunity like this, thanks to birds running into my windows.

It’s become an all-too common occurrence.  We’re relaxing at home during the day, when we hear a thump from the front of the house.  Another bird has evidently tried to commit suicide by flying into one of our windows.  What could the problem be?  They say depression is “contagious”.  Perhaps there’s an epidemic of birdy depression in our neighborhood, and birds view our front windows as a perfect means to end it.  What’s the solution?  A birdy counselor?  Anti-depressants dissolved in the bird bath?

Ok, it’s not the birds that are depressed, it’s me whenever I hear that sickening thump.  The strange thing is the location of the window where it most often occurs.  While we’ll occasionally hear it from a different window, by far the most common place for it to occur are the windows in our living room that look out to the front yard, over the covered porch.  The blinds on those windows are usually closed, and given the porch roof that keeps the windows in constant shade, it just seems odd that it’s a location that birds mistake for an open path.

Whenever the thump occurs, I’ll go out front and check on the victim. :Most often, it’s nowhere to be seen, with (evidently) no serious damage being done, and the bird flying away immediately after the strike.  Less often, I’ll find a dazed bird laying on the front porch or in the adjacent yard.  This was the situation yesterday where I took the accompanying photo.  It was a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak that had struck the window, and she was sitting in a stupor on the porch when I came out.  I picked her up and put her in a protected shady spot in the corner of the porch.  She sat there, looking around, evidently with no broken bones or other such trauma, but obviously with the equivalent of a birdy concussion.  After about 15 minutes, she flew away on her own, and later that day, I did see a female RB Grosbeak at the feeders, which may have been her.

The worst is finding a dead bird. It doesn’t happen all that often, when you find a deceased bird right by the window itself.  However, I do wonder what kind of long-term damage is done in some of the strikes.  Even if there are no broken bones or other similar damage, the brain trauma can’t be good.  It makes me wonder how many window-strikers end up dying later on, away from the window itself.

It’s kind of sad to think of how often this must be repeated across the world, every day, given the repeated occurrences for us at this one window.  It doesn’t seem to matter for us what we do. Shades up, shades down but closed, shades down but slats open…all give the window a different look, but nothing seems to help.

In the meantime, perhaps I’ll make lemonade out of lemons, and start a new genre of bird photography…macro bird photography of the eyes of wild birds.  Not exactly practical in most of the real world, given that you can never get that close to a wild bird, but sadly, I’ve had far too many opportunities over the years by our living room window.

3 comments on “Another stunned visitor…

  1. Reader

    Rather than look forward to taking pictures of injured or dead birds, perhaps you might strive to find a solution where there are no bird strikes at your windows?


    Given the tone of my post, I hope it doesn’t come across that I ‘look forward” to taking pictures of dead or injured birds. Clearly that’s not the case.

    As for finding a solution…we’ve definitely tried! Blinds up, down, slats open or closed, window decor, piece of lawn furniture by the window…doesn’t matter, we still on occasion hear the dreaded “thump”. In this case I think it’s simply location, given where the window is and that most birds coming to my yard come from the park across the street.

    Eliminating all bird strikes from windows is nice in theory, but in reality, many times there’s not much you can do.

  3. Reader

    Terry, what you did is great. There are so many challenges and at times they can seem overwhelming. Those of us that care certainly need to take advantage of any opportunities to convey what is happening with birds and the places they occur. If that may be a photograph of some colorful feathers of something else of a carcass, do it. At least there will be some memory of the bird, and perhaps some sort of appreciation. It is the latter topic which seems to be missing among so many people. Its hard to realize that there is such an ongoing battle for animal conservation. Thanks for what you do, sir!

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