Sunday, April 27, 2008
Friday, April 25, 2008
Studies indicate that as many as 100 million or more birds may perish as a result of window and building collisions each year, either immediately from the impact or shortly thereafter from injuries received during the collision. To prevent these accidents, backyard birders can do many things, including...
- Using soap, tape, whitewash, stickers, or other reflectors to break up the expanse of glass so birds are aware of the window. CollidEscape is a material that creates the appearance of a solid wall without obstructing the view - it is more expensive, but well worth the investment.
- Keeping feeders either very close to windows or greater than 10 feet from windows - if the feeders are close, birds can't gain the momentum necessary for an injury collision, and if the feeders are further away, they can avoid the glass more easily.
- Install exterior shutters, blinds, or netting to keep birds from contacting the glass. This has the distinct drawback, however, of obstructing the view and keeping you from enjoying the pleasures of winged visitors.
- Keeping windowscreens on windows throughout the year. While this cannot prevent collisions with patio doors, it can prevent window collisions.
I plan on installing CollidEscape as soon as possible to prevent other such accidents. It won't bring back the sparrow that has been lost, but today has been a lesson that won't be forgotten. For more information about bird window collisions and preventing such tragedies, I recommend this article from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology as well as a detailed account from WildBird Magazine.
Fly free, little sparrow.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Sunday, April 13, 2008
I have continued to build a brush pile to provide interim shelter and safety to winged visitors, gleaning a wide variety of sticks and scraps from other people's spring prunings. Thus far, some birds have visited the brush pile, even seeking it out to hunt for insects. The other landscaping work, however, is seeing less progress as the estimates came in too far above budget to be accepted comfortably. Instead, we plan on doing much of the preliminary work ourselves in preparation for professional labor in about a year. This will also give us more time to plan the layout for the feeder island and specific plantings we are interested in, and it's better to take it slow and do it properly than to rush and be unhappy.
As spring progresses, more species have reappeared. The mourning doves have returned, and the first California quail was pecking about on the patio recently, eagerly searching for scattered seeds. The quail are most amusing to watch, with their butterball physique, skittish mannerisms, and perfectly straight running tracks when spooked. There are quite a few quail in the neighborhood, and hopefully more of them will be visiting soon. They enjoy scratching in the mulch for different seeds, and I'm happy to spread more to give them their favorite treats. The western scrub jays are still absent, but I have spotted them out in the neighborhood recently and in another week or two I'll put out the peanuts in the shell they love so much to hoard (I found four recently while working in the flower beds), so hopefully they'll be happy to return as well.
It is ironic that just as there is more to write about with regards to backyard birding, there is less time to craft the words. Much better to be out and enjoying the visitors while making their stay more pleasant, but updates will come when they are able. We all need to spread our wings, shake our feathers from the winter laziness, and take flight into spring!