Thursday, July 1, 2010

July 1: Resurrected Chickadee

Talking to a co-worker today I heard a thud behind me. "I think a bird just hit the window," she said. My heart thudded and sank.

Something about our office windows seems to invite bird strikes. I've tried taping falcon silhouettes on the glass and hanging strings from the tops of the window frames. What's worked best has been a strip of blue flagging taped the length of the window to at least create movement and a bit of three-dimensionality so the bird doesn't see sky where there's really only hard glass. The window the bird hit today didn't have blue flagging, but I thought it was safe because my little bird feeder is stuck to the middle of it. Apparently that wasn't enough of a distraction.

Dreading what I would find, I went outside. On the ground, wings and head askew, was a chickadee. It's almost always a chickadee for some reason, though the windows have also stunned or killed a red-eyed vireo, a yellowthroat, titmice, and a song sparrow. I gently cupped the bird in the grass and smoothed its wings, trying to assess the damage. Its bill was agape as it panted, in shock. I knew my holding it would only panic it more, so I placed it in the shade under a bush and hoped for the best. It couldn't raise its head, so I worried it would soon die, but a little later I looked out the window to check on it, and while it was still where I'd left it, its head was up and beak shut. About ten minutes later as I left for an appointment, I checked one last time. A song sparrow was hopping toward it. What was that about? Did it see the smaller bird as a territorial invader or was it simply curious? Whatever the case, I was relieved to see the chickadee respond by flying away. It seemed to be ok, because it quickly disappeared into the trees to live a little longer.

Glass an illusion
of sky, tricking chickadees
into the hard truth.

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