Sunday, October 02, 2011

A bird in the hand ...

... would be better off in the bush.

I was sitting here at my desk, thinking about the Circus of the Spineless (of which I'll remind you again later*), when a sparrow hermit thrush flew full-tilt, head-on into my window, and fell unconscious on the cement.

I dashed out to rescue him; he was lying on his side, not moving, but when I picked him up, he was still breathing. His eyes were closed, his beak open. I brought him inside to the warmth, and wrapped him in the first thing that came to hand, paper towels.

He moved slightly, and I peeked. His head was bent back, towards the right side, but the right eye was open. When I put him down, he struggled to stand upright, but kept his head twisted. He didn't seem to notice me, a few inches away.

A soundless distress call

In case of accident ... well, for humans, they say to guard against shock; keep them warm. So I got a big plastic bowl and made a nest out of a towel in it, then gently put the thrush inside and covered him up. And sat there with him on my lap while I played a few rounds of Solitaire. Something mindless, to keep me from disturbing him from sheer impatience.

After about ten minutes, I put a hand on the top of the towel. Immediately, the thrush started to thrash about and call frantically, so I took the bowl to the open door, and lifted the corner of the towel. He jumped out and stood, teetering on the sill.

The left eye is still closed, the beak open, but he's silent again. 

Five more minutes, and he opened the other eye, hopped to the ground, then flew a few feet to a clump of potted plants ...

Feathery bird on rusty bird.

... where he sat. He watched me, but didn't mind me moving about, taking photos. After a while, worried about him getting cold, I touched his back, and he roused himself and flew into the shrubbery. 15 minutes later, he was gone. Good! I hope he got over the headache soon and completely.

Still on the rusty bird, against a flower pot patterned by snails eating algae.

Every now and then one of the chickadees brushes my window; not too hard, and they recover almost instantly. This is the first bird that has really knocked himself out for several years. I wish there were none. But how do you keep them from doing this? I've tried a few suggestions, like painting lines on the window, screening (They bump the screen and the glass, too, just not as hard.), or cross-hatching the danger zones with sticky tape. Nothing really works.

Any ideas? What do you do?

*About  Circus of the Spineless: tonight, midnight, Pacific Coast time, is the deadline for submissions to the October edition. You may e-mail your invertebrate posts to me, wanderinweeta AT gmail DOT com, or send me the link on Twitter @wanderinweeta.


  1. Nice save! But what you got there is a hermit thrush, and not a sparrow.

  2. biobabbler uses some kind of reflective(?) stickers that seem to work. I let her know about your post, so maybe she could offer a suggestion.

  3. agree with the thrush id

    Usually you have to break the reflection of the window making it look like the trees behind the bird are also in front of them.

    My neighbor uses flash tape from the garden center on her garden window. You might try hanging some wind socks

    For seasonal window fighting I have recommended using hairspray on the outside to kill reflection.

  4. Oh, I found her post:

  5. Thanks so much, Katie, and yes, I do like those, though I heard that you need to use them pretty densely to be certain they work. However, I also think that they are so unobtrusive, that lost more people will consider using these before hanging shiny moving things outside their windows (would probably drive me up a wall). So, they are, IMHO, a great gift idea. =)

    Apparently if a bird is being pursued (freaked out & scared) they'll see and may make for what they think is a hole (in your array of stickers) and zoom for it.

    Unfort. I cannot recall who wrote about this--I think he does like stuff hanging in front and/or some surface coating, but I think that these decals work pretty well and are better than nothing. Non scientific opinion. I should probably buy MORE and put more up. The directions do recommend a certain density.

    Appreciate that you are asking the question. And I've heard recommendations re: distance of bird feeder from window (less than or greater than 2 different distances is best) that will also reduce chances of those heart wrenching crashes.

  6. Thanks, Kirk! We've not seen very many of these here.

    And thanks, all for the suggestions. I'm going to order the decals.

  7. We have this problem bigtime and it breaks my heart when one of the birds doesn't survive. I've tried decals (but you need one every two inches! it would block too much light and view) and windchimes (but you'd need one every two —!) and there are nets but why have these nice large windows if the light and view will be blocked? Last night I found "zen wind savers" online (thanks to a link from a favourite blogger in my list) and I think I'm going to give these a try. See One could try hanging strings using putty and we did it attaching foil balls to the bottoms, but they tangled up and/or the putty didn't hold. These, if they tangle, can apparently (I emailed the website to ask, last night, and received an answer quickly) be easily untangled by keeping a pole handy.

  8. Good job. When I taught school there was an upper grade teacher that had all kinds of animals (including a small "farm" behind her classroom) for her kids to experience. It was common to see her in the teacher's lounge with a peeping blouse with a small bird or chick tucked inside for a warm spot. - Margy

  9. Oh I'm so glad you were able to revive the poor little thrush.

    We used to have a huge problem with birds hitting our big picture window until we realized the birds could see through it to the window on the other side of the room. They didn't realize there were 2 panes of glass (and a living room) in between. So we put up sheer curtains on the 2nd window, and the birds haven't hit the window in a long time!


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