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Posts Tagged ‘#WildBirdOttawa’

I woke to a robin. 

First thing this morning, I glanced out the window and frowned. An odd little lump sat by the back tire of Mr Man’s car. My eyes aren’t great on the best of days and less so at 6:30 in the a.m., so I had to squint a little before I understood what I was seeing.

Juvenile robin. Not moving. Or… scratch that. Moving oddly.

Hop, shuffle, hop. Shuffle, hop, shuffle. Not going anywhere fast.

It looked like a wing problem, then I realized that it could be a leg problem and the wing was extended for balance.

I conducted a bit of research via the Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre, a great place that has been helping birds in the area for decades. They took in a mourning dove that hit our back window about a week after we moved in. (Turns out that spring sun renders the living room windows effectively transparent unless you add little stickers to the panes. The Center even gave us a number so we could track the bird’s progress. You’ll be happy to know that while it had a broken wing and pelvis, after months of treatment it recovered and was released with a flock of other doves. So it wouldn’t be lonely.)

Since we’re on the topic, here’s my related story about birds and window strikes: Things I Learned Today, or, Sometimes They Fly Away

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Fledgling birds, including robins, often find themselves out of the nest and still learning to fly. That is to be expected. 

If you are unsure if a fledgling is being cared for by its parents, watch from a distance for at least two hours…

The Center was closed anyway so we waited. The bird moved a little, then a little more. The leg still looked odd, though, so we decided it might be time to try to coax it into a comfortable and well-ventilated box and go visit the doctor.

Um, no.

The bird’s wings were working just fine. It wasn’t flying very far but it was flying, and not at all interested in taking a ride to our friendly neighborhood wildlife rehabbers.

The activity was encouraging, actually. The robin flitted. It hopped. It hid under a giant bush. What to do?

Not much. Short a Wile E. Coyote-style net and lots of dramatic, stress-inducing flailing around, there weren’t a lot of alternatives. I edged a little dish of water under the bush and backed away. 

We’ll keep an eye out for the bird and try again if it appears to be in distress, but for now, nothing more.

Sometimes there aren’t many options, and while I lean toward action, sometimes the best thing to do is nothing at all.

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Photo by Landon Martin on Unsplash

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>> Today’s Lesson, or, tl;dr: If a bird strikes your window, it’s probably* in trouble. Help if you can. <<

A bird hit my window today. The thunk echoed through the house and into my office, and of course I went to investigate. Two juncos scattered as I approached the back door, but a third wasn’t going anywhere. It lay on its side on top of a big plastic storage bin that holds bird seed and miscellaneous gardening equipment. It’s not the kind of place a bird normally hangs out. Too exposed. Smells too much like cat. But there it was, tilted over on one side and twitching.

I waited, because this has happened before. Sometimes they fly away.

Ten minutes later, the bird was still there, but it had rolled over to perch on a coil of garden hose tucked behind the bin. I propped one half of a shoe box on the bin to keep it from looking too much like dinner to some passing hawk, hoped the cat stayed asleep, and did some research.

We have some wonderful bird organizations in Ottawa.** The Wild Bird Care Centre rescues all kinds of birds and also has a lot of useful information online. Pick it up, they said. Put it in a bag or a box and bring it in, it probably needs help. Won’t cost you a thing, we’re just that awesome (and they are!)

Bonus: birds can be adorable!

We’ve had bird strikes before and while a couple picked themselves up and went on their way, one most decidedly did not. It was a mourning dove, a beautiful grey bird that decided the yard looked like a fine spot to lie down in, and that was that. We picked it up and took it to the Wild Bird Centre. Later, they reported that it had a broken wing and pelvis so, yeah, not walking away from that one any time soon. (It took months, but the Bird Centre rehabbed it and released it back into the wild with a flock of its fellow doves. How great is that?)

Remembering that dove and flush with new information, I called Safe Wings Ottawa.

“The Centre’s closed for the night but bring the bird to me and I’ll care for it,” said the nice woman at the other end of the line. “It probably needs help. But be quick, flying away doesn’t mean it’s ok.”

I thanked her, grabbed the other half of the shoe box and headed back outside.

The bird flew away.

I called the nice lady back. She was polite but perhaps just a wee bit exasperated when I said, “You know how I called about that little junco? Yeah, it woke up and flew away.” She must hear that a lot.

But next time, she won’t hear it from me.

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Looking for information and/or window stickers to prevent bird strikes? Here, I’ll save you the trouble:
Prevent birds from hitting windows with these products — BirdWatching

I got some of the UV reflective stickers and they seem ok but not great. We still had a strike after I put those up. After that I went old school, and also use gold star stickers that I picked up from a craft or dollar store. They aren’t great for outdoors but will last the season if in a relatively protected place.

Figure out which windows are problematic (do they reflect the great outdoors? the answer may change depending on the season; does interior light make it look like there’s a passage through the house?) and stick away!

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* I’m just guessing here, but if it knocks itself out I’d say definitely in trouble.
** Most relevant today: the Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre, a charitable organization whose mission is to “assess, treat, and rehabilitate injured, ill, or orphaned wild birds,” and Safe Wings Ottawa, a “program of the Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club to reduce bird mortality from window collisions.” If you aren’t in this neck of the woods but need help with a bird, OVWBCC recommends you visit www.wildliferehabber.com or call your local vet.

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