It happens every day in every town in every county of every state. It happens as frequently as 2000 times every minute in this country alone. A bird flies into glass and is killed. The accepted estimate for avian mortality due to window strikes is between 300 million and 1 billion deaths each year in the United States.
It’s one of the more frustrating aspects of being a modern person in the civilized world: almost everything we do is terribly bad for everyone else. Other than telling stories, making songs and painting on the cave walls, most human activity at this point is decidedly against Mother Earth. Even our windows that allow us the comfort of our homes while observe our beloved backyards kill ceaselessly.
And such was nearly the case for this Varied Thrush (Ixoreus naevius). The adult male hit a window in a neighborhood close to the Arcata Community Forest. Varied Thrushes are common winter residents on the Redwood Coast, which is at the southern end of their range. While they don’t summer here, preferring more northern forests for the tasks of rearing their young, by mid-September their beautiful and haunting song is a familiar reminder that the mysterious months of darkness and rain have returned.
This bird was stunned by his collision and was easily picked up by the compassionate people who found him. Soon he had regained his wits and was trying to fly. In the past, a common recommendation was to give the victim of a window strike a safe place to re-group and if she or he recovered and flew off, well so much the better… Now however we have changed that advice. We recommend that the victim be picked up and brought to our clinic.
Brain hemorrhaging is the most common killer of window injured birds. A bird who appears to have recovered and flown off, might be flying off to his death. We give window strike victims a 24 period of observation, preventative anti-inflammatory medicine, and a safe place to eat, drink and regain senses. After a day of observation, if all systems are go, we then return them near their rescue site to their wild freedom.
And this is what happened for this Varied Thrush. Even though he’d flown around our examination room during his admission procedure, we kept him 24 hours. The next day, with a slightly fuller belly (they don’t call them mealworms for nothing!) and exhibiting strong flight, we took him to the Arcata Community Forest and gave him his second chance.
Not all of our patients are so quickly turned around. Many require much longer care, some even less. But what each one requires is that we are here, open and ready to do what needs to be done for each wild neighbor in need.
Your generosity and love for the wild keeps our doors open. As we near 1000 patients treated in 2017, running close to 5% above any year previously, we need your support more than ever. Please donate today! Thank You!!
For more information on how you can prevent bird collision with windows, check out these resources: