Wednesday, January 14, 2009
ITS FOR THE BIRDS
My 8x4 foot kitchen window faces east. There is a large deck, with two bird feeding stations and a total of 5 feeders for mixed seed, thistle and sunflower seed, plus suet feeders. We spend about $65 a month on bird seed. At any given moment there are +40 birds. These are the common guests this time of the year: house finch, house sparrow, dark eyed junco, and pine sisken.
The problem is our large,east facing window acts as a mirror, reflecting the trees, mountains and blue sky. Every morning one or two of these little creatures smashes into the window, thinking it is free air space. They fall to the deck, upside down with feet curled up, or wings splayed out and still.
Bob taught me years ago that if you hurry, you can usually save them. The problem is they go into shock and will surely die, even if the impact isn't lethal. You need to pick them up, set them right side up in your cupped hands, and hold them for 2-10 minutes, until they can keep their feet under them and their heads erect. You can usually feel their little hearts beating a mile a minute. At first they will be pretty limp, keep their feet curled, and their eyes might be partly closed. But if they are going to survive they start to perk up. I pet their soft heads with my thumb and talk to them (not mandatory, I guess). When they can keep their feet open and support their own weight, I set them on a branch (Bob put our live Christmas tree still in the stand on the deck for this purpose) or ledge or fence and walk away. I watch them out my window and check until they fly away.
I have saved maybe a dozen birds in the last couple of weeks, and only lost two. It makes me nervous to run errands until about 10 am when the sun is high enough to minimize the illusion.
It's a little thing, but it's what I do.