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Conservation IssuesA Transparent Request
Hannah Suthers

A Transparent Request
Hannah Suthers

Recently one of our own presented me with an exquisite hatching year male Baltimore Oriole with deep browns, yellows and soft orange. Dead. A neighborhood picture window kill. I feel compelled to do more than grieve and prepare a beautiful scientific study skin for Princeton University.

For over two weeks I have been hand-feeding a Veery, every hour, for twelve hours a day. Window hit at a Trenton building. Knocked out. Concussion. (They don't break their necks; they get brain damage) The bird is very restless to migrate at night, though it cannot feed itself yet, and one eye has yet to see again. [Update, the bird had lost sight in one eye and had suffered brain damage which meant it couldn't surviv in the wild and was euthanized.]

These are only two of the estimated hundreds of millions of birds that smash into windows and buildings each year (see Sept-Oct Audubon). Together with other human causes of bird deaths, such as communication tower kills, power lines, windmills, car collision, cats captures, pesticides, loss of habitat, is it any wonder that birds are declining? Though I have written before about such gloomy statistics, the problems keep coming and I must appeal again with hopes that many of you will take action.

Migratory songbirds are passing through now. They started mid-August and continue into November. Please do something to alert them to the danger of glass plate windows. They do not see glass. They see reflections and think that they can fly into the reflected vegetation.

On suggestion is to hanging fluttery reflective streamers in front of the window. Those fluttery, ribbon streamers may help some to divert them. Or arrange with your kids to put up Halloween decorations in the windows early. A single silhouette of a raptor in the window doesn't do the trick; there need to be several images, closely spaced.

If you have a room with glass on two sides so that the birds can see through, draw the drapes across the panels on one side of the room. A solution that works very well is a framed screen or plastic netting, with mesh small enough so heads can't get through, installed outside the window.

At work please turn off outer-office lights when you leave for the night. The aurora of lights around a building, especially on foggy nights, confuses the fly-by-night warblers and vireos, flycatchers, thrushes and orioles. They will not fly out of light into darkness, and they exhaust themselves fluttering around a building or kill themselves smashing into the windows. And yes, that's where the expression fly-by-night comes from; they feed and rest by day, and migrate after sundown to avoid predators. And perhaps you can do something at home and work to augment their safety. Pertinent Links:



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Last revision: Saturday, September 29, 2001 - 11:04 AM