Thursday, November 15, 2012

Gotta Keep Up

The title of this blog may have you thinking, I'm referring to blog entries or keeping the feeders full or even my species count for my competition.  I wish it was in reference to the fun side of birding, the happy days of searching new species or of simply enjoying the ones I share my yard with and then share with my readers.  Today, I walked out into the courtyard at work and found a horde of birds that were casualties of circumstance.  These birds had simply picked the wrong place to forage and never saw the glass that they flew into. 

American Robins from the beginning of Nov.

I can't even count the number of dead or injured birds we have found around work that were victims of window strikes.   If I were to estimate over the last 4 years...  I'd guess around 300.  What amazes me is not the number but the fact that those are only the ones I've seen.  When I think of all the other building in the world and all the other windows, the estimates conservationist make seem beyond real and more like an understatement. 

Fox Sparrow, not all the birds die, at least right away.

Here the abundance of window strikes is without a doubt Dark-eyed Juncos.  These small gray-brown sparrows breed across Canada and into the northern US, including some higher altitude areas farther south.  During the winter they migrate south as far as parts of Mexico to forage for food and survive before heading north again.  There are quite a number of forms of Dark-eyed Junco as would be expected from the large distribution of the species.  To go into any more details about their behavior would require discussing separate forms.  Instead, I just also mention that they are NOT the only birds that have been killed.

Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)- 10 in total today from one hall

Window Strike Species (off the top of my head): Red-tailed Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Mourning Dove, Hermit Thrush, Swainson's Thrush, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Dark-eyed Junco, White-throated Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Northern Flicker, American Robin, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, Indigo Bunting, Brown Creeper, etc, etc.

Squirt Bottle
filled with soapy water
So back to the title.  I take some of the blame for today's casualties.  We have tried a number of different methods for keeping them from flying into the windows but our options are limited because it is a workplace.  In vacant areas we've put some newspaper up on the windows but that's not an option for the higher traffic sections.  In those areas we try to do non-invasive window soaping.  The basic goal is get soap scum on the windows to breakup the reflection and let the birds know something is there.  BUT I haven't done it in awhile and with all the rain, most of the residue has washed away.  I "Gotta Keep Up" with making sure we're making an effort to reduce the number of window strikes. 

Me illustrating the final product, it doesn't stop the strikes
but it does reduce them.

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