BIRDS, Those Backyard Jewels!
~Contributed by Beverly Guthrie
We all love those beautiful, interesting jewels that adorn our gardens called BIRDS! Here are some tips to help you understand them better and assist you in differentiating between a behavior that is normal and one that is not.
Birds attacking windows—Most of us have seen a bird repeatedly hitting a window, especially in the spring. In all probability, this bird is seeing his own reflection in the window and trying to defend his territory from an intruder.
Do whatever you can to break up the reflection on the OUTSIDE of the window—put hawk or owl decals on the windows, hang strings of twisted foil strips in front of the windows, stick Post-it notes on the outside of the window; even let your windows remain a little dirty. Visit your local bird store to obtain decals and find other ideas.
Note: Hawk or owl decals work well.
Birds accidentally flying into windows—Occasionally, a bird will fail to recognize that there is a sheet of glass preventing it from landing on your houseplant, or flying straight through the house to the other side. Injury from a collision with a window can range from a few “woozy” moments to serious injury and possibly death. Using scare decals, etc. can help as a preventative measure, but here is what you can do to help the bird if he is lying on the ground unable to fly after a collision:
If it is safe from predators, place an inverted laundry basket over the bird and watch from afar. In most cases, the bird will recover quickly and be able to fly away a wiser bird when it “comes to” and the basket is removed
If it does not recover quickly or if there are cats or other predators nearby, prepare a box with soft paper towels or T-shirt material on the bottom and holes punched in the top to let in air. Gently place the bird in the box and place it in a very quiet, dark, warm place to see if the bird is able to recover on its own. Always use caution and wear gloves when handling any kind of wildlife.
If you notice an obvious injury at any time—blood or a broken wing, etc, or if the bird in the box does not recover sufficiently (after a period no longer than 4 hours) to fly away when the box top is slowly removed, it is time to find a permitted wildlife rehabilitator and transport the bird. See Transport Instructions below. Do not feed or give water to an injured bird.
Note: Be careful to peek at the bird before completely removing the lid. You do not want to release an injured bird that might have recovered enough to fly out of the box, but would still need to be recaptured and taken to a rehabilitator.
Birds acting drunk—Berries of all kinds can ferment from the repeated process of freezing and then thawing during warm periods.
Birds that eat those berries, notably Cedar Waxwings, can eat so many berries that they become drunk and stagger around on the ground. Injury can occur from the bird being in this state.
If the birds are in a relatively safe place, leave them alone to recover.
If they are in danger from cars or predators, do what you can to move them to a safer place to recover. Placing an inverted laundry basket over the birds until they recover can be helpful as well.
If the bird is injured due to a car collision, cat attack, etc., the bird needs help. Transport as soon as possible to a properly permitted rehabilitator.
Please note: Birds that have ingested Amdro ant bait or other granular pesticides can appear “drunk” as well. If you or your neighbors have been using these products and you see an impaired bird, you'll need to transport the affected bird immediately to a properly permitted rehabilitator for treatment.
Ducks “courting” in swimming pools—Like we humans do, ducks seek a safe private place to court, mate and nest. If you are being visited by a pair of ducks in the spring, you should be flattered. It means that you have created a lovely, peaceful urban habitat free of predators! If, however, you would prefer not to have wild companions in your pool, you can try some of the following suggestions:
Try placing weighted Mylar balloons dancing just above the water in your pool. Scare Eye balloons can be ordered online or at your local wild bird store, or you can try floating lots of beach balls in the pool.