Yellow Billed Cuckoo Survives Window Strike | By Doreen Damm …..
With winter migration comes an increase in the variety of beautiful birds we seldom see in Florida. Unfortunately, that also means the number of calls we get regarding birds and collisions with windows increase too. Birds have binocular vision and do not see the world the same way that mammals do and perceive colors differently as well. They cannot see the glass, but rather see right through clean glass. They can also see reflections of clouds, trees and gardens which to them is an extension of their flight space. Because of this, they often hit windows at high speeds. This can leave them a little dazed at best, and those that survive often have injuries that need treatment. That is where Owl’s Nest Sanctuary for Wildlife comes in.
We had several calls to Owl’s Nest this season regarding Yellow Billed Cuckoo’s. Since many birds that strike windows do not survive, we were thrilled when release time came for this beautiful winter visitor.
Our Yellow Billed Cuckoo came in with a fractured shoulder. He was diagnosed by the Wildlife Docs at Busch Gardens of Tampa Bay. While getting the best of care at Owl’s Nest Sanctuary for Wildlife where he recovered, he was more than ready to get back on his migratory track. You can see his release by following the link below.
This migratory season has resulted in the largest variety of birds striking windows of homes and offices in our six years of serving Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco. The increase can be contributed to several factors, one reason being that we have grown to assist in neighboring counties including Hernando, Citrus and Polk. Another reason, that the state of Florida has also grown with new homes and businesses in our local area.
With up to one billion birds dying from collisions with windows each year we can all do our part to reduce these numbers. Birds that have flown over thousands of miles on their migratory track, (for most, the same track they take each year) it only takes seconds to be killed by striking even the smallest pain of glass in their flight path.
Go outside and look at windows from a bird’s point of view. If you see branches or sky reflected in or visible through the glass, that’s what the birds will also see. There are several ways both businesses and home owners can help. Here are just a few suggestions from DYI cost effective ways as well as items you can purchase to deter this from happening.
Most birds will avoid patterns on glass with vertical stripes 4 inches apart or less, or horizontal stripes spaced 2 inches or less apart. Stripes should be at least 1/8 inch wide and readily visible. Irregular patterns that follow these guidelines will work too. If hummingbirds are a problem, the spacing should be reduced to a 2 by 2 inch grid. All marking should be applied to the outside of the glass.
- Tempera paint is long-lasting, even in rain, and non-toxic, but comes right off with a damp rag or sponge. Soap is also an alternative and readily found around the house.
- Use tape to create patterns. Any opaque tape can work.
- What about prefabricated decals? Birds see decals shaped like raptors as obstacles but not as predators. To be effective, any type of decal must be spaced as previously described.
- Add interior vertical blinds and keep the slats only half open.
- Netting and screens on the outside of the window is very effective. Screens should cover the entire window and netting should be a tight woven (around 5/8″ or 1.6 cm) so that birds don’t get their heads or bodies entangled but will bounce off unharmed.
Some commercial products to look into are*:
- ABC BirdTape. This long-lasting tape offers an easier way to apply the correct spacing of dots across your window.
- Acopian Bird Savers. Also known as “zen curtains,” these closely spaced ropes hang down over windows. They do the work of tape or decals but are easier to install and can be aesthetically pleasing.
- One-way transparent film. Products such as Collidescape permit people on the inside to see out, but makes the window appear opaque on the outside.
- Lightweight netting or removable screens can be purchased from companies like birdscreen.com, birdsavers.com and easyupshades.com
Please note, while we cannot completely stop this occurrence, we can reduce the number of impacts and even the severity of the impact. Also, if you hear that tale tell sound of a bird impacting your window, quickly go outside and investigate. If the bird is alive but unable to fly away after a brief moment of clearing its head, observe the wings, If the wings are both held properly, neither dangling, perching without assistance and the eyes seem normal, leave it to recover on its own. If it appears to be injured, then please contact Owl’s Nest Sanctuary for Wildlife and we will send a volunteer to pick it up. If you are not in our area, find a licensed rehabber right away, broken bones usually need proper attention within minutes or hours to heal properly without surgery.
Meanwhile, place it in a dark container such as a shoe box, make little holes to allow air to come in, and leave it somewhere quiet, out of reach of pets and other predators. Do not try to give it food and water, and resist handling it. If the weather is extremely cold, you may need to take it inside, but don’t keep the bird too warm. The darkness will calm the bird while it revives, which should occur within a few minutes unless it is seriously injured. Do not open the box indoors to check on it or it might escape into your house and be hard to get back out!
Check on the box outside every 15 minutes or so—if the bird flies off, that’s that! If it doesn’t, continue to contain it till a licensed rehabilitator can take possession of it. Remember that, technically, it is illegal to handle a migratory bird without a permit, and medically helping an injured bird requires training, so your job is to observe and keep it safe till it recovers on its own or help arrives.
If you happen to find any wildlife in trouble, please report it to Owl’s Nest Sanctuary for Wildlife, a Federally and State Permitted Rehabilitation & Non-Profit Organization. The fastest way to reach us is by texting (813) 598-5926 and we will dispatch a volunteer as soon as possible.
There are several ways you can be a part of caring for our injured and orphaned wildlife. As a non-profit, monetary donations and supplies are always appreciated. 100% of all gifts go directly to animal care.
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