Thursday, March 5, 2009

Fatal Wind

Yesterday was a blisteringly windy day, fatally so for one American goldfinch. While most birders are aware of the grave danger of window collisions, the truth is that collisions can -- and do -- happen with anything. My guess is that this poor bird was knocked off course by a gust and hit our back fence at the wrong angle. An untimely end, but fortunately a relatively fast one.

Birds can also hit the sides of buildings, tree trunks, rocks, and any other obstacle. While we may want to protect them from such accidents, in truth it is a natural part of their cycle no matter what we may do. I recommend that all birders regularly check their yards for dead or injured birds, particularly along fences, walls, and in confined spaces. You may not be able to save them, but you can be more aware of danger zones. Furthermore, if feral cats or other predators consistently find weak, injured, or dead birds in one area, they will be more likely to prowl around and attack the other birds in your yard. Those incidents we can prevent by being ever vigilant to protect our backyard birds.

All the same, whenever it does happen I am saddened. We feed the birds to help them, nurture them, and enjoy them, never to harm or hurt them. Fly free, goldfinch.


Josephine- said...

Is disease an issue as well? I know back in MI we had issues with dead birds related to West Nile.

Jessica said...

We lost a pine siskin to the wind... no other apparent injuries.

A very sad find in the backyard.

Melissa said...

Josephine - Yes, disease can be a factor in backyard bird deaths, but usually you can tell those birds have been sickly. This was a healthy American goldfinch with head trauma - an obvious collision. I hope that disease isn't prominent at my feeders this year.

Melissa said...

Very sad indeed, Jessica. Unfortunately, there's nothing we can do about it, though perhaps adding bushes to shield the fence will help. It's on the landscaping list!