October is the month when we consider ourselves to be in full fall migration mode. It is a spectacular time for bird-watching – watch for different species of hawks such as Cooper’s, broad-winged, and red-shoulders; falcons such as peregrines, merlins, and kestrels; and songbirds such as vireos, thrushes, and warblers. With this huge influx of additional birds to our neighborhoods, we also increase the likelihood of direct human/bird interactions, sometimes resulting in injury to the birds if we are not careful in our day-to-day activities. We would like to give you a few simple tips that can greatly reduce harm to our feathered friends and even enhance their journeys.
• Add window clings to your windows to make them more visible to the birds. It is estimated that 100 million birds, especially songbirds, are killed each year due to window strikes. Window clings are easy to find online, and we sell them in our store.
• Drive with caution at all times of day and night. Car strikes represent the number one injury that we see in our avian hospital during this time of year. A bird can quickly come out of nowhere, whether it is a hawk chasing a smaller bird for its food source; a juvenile white-crowned pigeon that is not fully adept at navigating from the trees on one side of the highway to the other; or an insectivore diving for a dragonfly or other insects that are in your car’s path.
• Consider keeping your pet cat indoors. It is estimated that up to 4.5 billion birds are killed each year, in the U.S. alone, by domestic cats. A small bird that flies into your window and is stunned could be easy prey for your cat.
• Be mindful of rat poison. Hungry owls and hawks that eat poisoned mice or rats may become victims of secondary poisoning.
• Be careful with your pet birds! We know that many people like to keep their pet birds outside during the day, but please remember that there are currently many more predatory hawks in the area that do eat other avian species. If you do not have a secure cage for your pet, then you might consider leaving them inside during these migration months.
• Adding bird feeders in a safe spot in your backyard can help feed a hungry songbird that is resting during its long migration. Be sure to place the feeder away from windows and in a place that is not easily accessible by cats.
If you find a bird that has hit a window…
• Step one is to place the bird in a box or container that has airflow to protect it from roaming cats or other predators.
• Then, the best course of action is to call us, or your local wildlife rehabilitation center, immediately. The bird might appear to just be stunned, but it could have internal bleeding that is not immediately apparent. The quicker that we can get an injured bird into treatment, the higher the probability that we can save the animal’s life.
• Please remember that we have a 24/7 emergency response team and we will pick up an injured bird any time day or night. We have certified, experienced wildlife rehabilitators on staff that know the best way to care for an injured bird.
Most of these tips have been talked about in other Bird Center blogs. Check those out for greater detail. Click on this interactive migration map created by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to get a fuller understanding of the magnitude of migration. It is truly miraculous. Thank you for helping us to Keep Them Flying!
Janeen Simon, Executive Director, 2016Share