Tuesday, March 11, 2014

When Birds and Houses Collide

Today, it was spring in upstate New York.  For one day.

The forecast was so encouraging this morning, at least for today. (Tomorrow is quite another story).

The temperature reached 57 degrees F (14 C) with abundant sunshine. Even in the darkness I went to work in, thanks to daylight time, birds were singing.
Sunrise over downtown Binghamton, New York 3-11-14
As I arrived in downtown Binghamton and walked to my job, I heard a peregrine falcon, its cry echoing from downtown buildings.

Flocks of pigeons heard also, and took off into the air.  I watched them wheeling through the sky in their avoidance maneuvers and knew that spring would be coming - for good, one day soon. 

I am not a birder, but I love birds.  I have loved birds from my earliest moments of my Bronx childhood, when I visited my aunt's house and fell in love with her pet canary. 

This beloved aunt would take me to the Bronx Zoo, which was perhaps a couple of miles from her apartment in the Bronx.  She would want to visit the big cats.  I wanted to visit the bird aviary.  We always ended up compromising.   Meanwhile, at home I would watch my Mom feed the local birds with slices of white bread.  (Not healthy, but that's what people did in the 1950's.)

Then I grew up.  I don't have bird feeders, or bird houses (although that will change this spring), but I love to watch the birds.  It seems so many gardeners do, and it is no wonder.  Birds and humans are linked in some wonderful ways.  But sometimes, the relationship kills.

One of the blogs I like to read is GardeninaCity.  Back in February I devoured a post called "When Birds Collide".  

The subject was passive bird collisions - that is, birds colliding with stationery houses.  Your house, maybe my house.  Many of our houses have murdered at least one bird by just being there.  Fess up, homeowners.  You know it is true.

According to statistics quoted by that blog post, the average American house may kill from one to three birds each year. 

You may see a stunned bird seem to recover, and fly off, but apparently most of those birds are doomed.

That's a heartbreaking statistic for anyone who loves birds.

So what can be done?  I will take the liberty of quoting from that blog post:
"Recommended steps to reduce bird deaths from window strikes include:
  • Keep feeders within one foot of your windows. This prevents birds from building up speed before a crash. In our garden I don’t think this would be practical, as being close to the windows would convert bird feeders into squirrel feeders.
  • You can deck your windows with string, tape, decals or a special bird tape produced by the American Bird Conservancy.
  • Keep the window screens on or hang fine netting over your windows."
Here are some other suggestions.
And can you help a stunned bird you see near your house?  Maybe.

It is possible that technology will come to the rescue of our feathered friends.

Until then - let's safeguard the birds who brighten our spring sunrises, and our spring days.


  1. We had a beautiful day here in Toronto, ON as well! I didn't see many birds but I did get out for a wonderful long walk with my baby boy enjoying the sunshine. I can't wait till the nice weather is here to stay.

  2. Nice blog! I love the suggestions. I live on a river and the reflection in the windows lead to a lot of birds flying into them. Thank you again.

  3. Yes, my house has been responsible for the demise of a bird or two. Strangely, my bird feeders are close to the house. But I have noticed that there are a lot of hawks around and that often makes a bird take flight straight into our windows. Sometimes they recuperate, sometimes they do not. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Peace

  4. Great info on how to keep our birds, Alana! We had one lovely day of springtime, too, and the temps nearly reached 80, but then yesterday Old Man Winter returned and it was a bitterly cold return, too. Bah!! At least it doesn't look like it'll last long. Hang in there, Alana!

  5. That looks gorgeous!
    I had lovely weather in my part of the UK. :)


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