About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How to Get Free When You’re Stuck and Scared

Spring has finally sprung here in mid-Michigan, but I’m not sure any of us quite believe it. There still could be frost on the grass tomorrow. Gardeners sure are feeling the excitement. I sold 2 Topsy Turvy set-ups Friday and 6 set-ups Saturday! Click HERE if you don't know what I'm talking about.

There are lots of new bird songs in the air and when I had the screen door open today at the Wild Birds Unlimited shop in East Lansing, I heard a little confused call of a bird that sounded like “hel-low?” right outside the door. It was a little male goldfinch stuck under the clear awning.

He looked right at me and then flew up, up, up trying to get free, but the window was in the way. He panicked. And I felt sick to my stomach.

The worst part was watching him make the same mistake over and over again. We had lots of customers and I’m sure they noticed I seemed distracted.

I kept thinking, it’s so easy! Just fly down and out into the open. But he was frantic. The ever abundant House Sparrows seem to understand what glass is and how to get around or work with man-made obstacles. They like the awning trap design because bugs go up there and get stuck too. All day long I watch the sparrows fly up grab a quick bug meal and fly down.

New birds to the area, however, like the goldfinch sometimes get stuck. I watched this goldfinch for about an hour running back and forth and flying up and up against the glass.

Then I heard this loud squawk. I looked outside and saw two sparrows trying to grab the goldfinch by its neck. Feathers were flying. They finally got a good grip and tossed him down toward the ground. The goldfinch thought about flying toward the window again but the dirty look the sparrows gave him convinced him to fly down and finally OUT! Hurray for the Super Sparrows!

Whether they were offering a helping wing or just shooing away a stranger from their territory, I was glad the goldfinch was finally free. I couldn’t help but think of the millions of other birds that find themselves in similar situations during migration and don’t make it.

One estimate is that about 50% of the migrating population won’t make the trip back safely to their original birthplace.

The National Wind Coordinating Committee came up with the following bird fatality statistics in the United States:
•98 million to 980 million fatal collisions with buildings and windows
•130 million to over a billion fatal collisions with high-tension lines
•60 million to 80 million deaths caused by automobiles
•4 million to 50 million fatal encounters with communications towers
•72 million birds each year are killed by toxic chemicals, including pesticides
•100s of millions of birds are killed by domestic cats
•15 million birds a year in North America are killed in managed annual waterfowl hunt kills
•20,000 to 37,000 fatal collisions with wind turbines

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