Preventing Bird Window Collisions

November 15th, 2008

Windows provide a view to outside world.  For many, spending idle hours staring out of the window at the birds and nature in their backyards is a true pleasure.  Unfortunately, these same windows can be a hazard for birds who don’t see them and slam into a window.  About half of all birds who fly into a window either die immediately or later perish because of their injuries.  Preventing window collisions is extremely important!

There are several things that you can do the make your home safer for the birds that live right outside.  Unfortunately, many well meaning people exacerbate the situation by placing bird feeders and bird baths either too close to a window or, ironically, to far away from a window.  Placing a feeder extremely close to a window will prevent birds from gaining enough speed to seriously hurt themselves when they strike a window.  On the flip side, putting a feeder far enough away from a window will give birds enough time to avoid a window strike once they realize what is happening.  Generally, feeders should either be placed within about 3 feet of a window or 30 feet away from a window.  For this reason, window bird feeders are actually a safe way to feed your feathered friends.  On the other hand, feeders placed away from windows should be placed FAR away from windows.

Another way to avoid window collisions is to make them more obvious to the birds.  Windows with lattices are much safer for birds because birds can clearly see the lattice.  The closer the lattice design is, the more effective this will be.  Of course, investing in new windows isn’t always a practical option, but there are other simple tips you can use to make the glass stand out.  Simply closing your blinds or shutters is often enough to prevent birds from hitting your window.  Installing window screens will also help to prevent collisions, and it has an added benefit of slowing birds down if they do happen to strike a window.  Many people also decorate their windows to make them stand out.  This can be a fun activity to involve kids in as well.  For example, many people like to put up festive pictures in their windows like snowflakes or snowmen in the winter.  Window alert decals are an easy way to make windows stand out to birds.  These decals easily attach to your window.  They are unobtrusive, as to the human eye, they look like frosted or tinted glass.  However, to birds, these simple decorative decals stand out, which prevents birds from hitting the glass.

Whatever you decide to do, I encourage you all to consider this problem seriously.  Window collisions are one of the leading preventable causes of death for wild birds.  While we all love the birds that grace our yard, we must be careful to protect their safety, especially when we invite them with seed or water.  At this point, in many ways, they really have become our responsibility.  So lets keep them safe!

Bird Flying With Fish

September 6th, 2008

I recently found this picture on the web.  It was popular on a social networking site.  Pretty incredible to watch a bird carrying a fish like this.  The caption for the social networking site was “Higher! Higher!”  Somehow, I don’t think that is what the fish was thinking!  :)   Click here to take a look!

Hummingbird Pictures from Behind

August 13th, 2008

Hummingbirds have invaded my yard over the past few weeks.  I’m really excited about these beautiful birds.  Greens, browns, and reds have been buzzing around my yard.  Laying outside with my baby, we’ve listened as they sing, and watched as they flit from red flower to red flower in search of a meal.  Of course, they’ve also been visiting our hummingbird feeder.  One hummer has decided the he owns our feeder, and when others try to stop for a snack, it swoops down and chases them off.  Despite his best efforts, he cannot guard our hummingbird feeder all day, and other visitors have been able to perch and eat.

I tried hanging my BirdCam, as this provided the best location for photographing my feeder.  But, this was less than successful.  It seems that swaying in the wind has confused the BirdCam, and I’ve had many false positives.  I’ve been extremely impressed by this camera’s accuracy at determining when a bird is present.  It seems that the camera must be firmly mounted to do so.  Lesson learned.

Hummingbirds have been on my mind.  Our store is running a sale on hummingbird feeders.  They are flying and humming around my yard like mad.  And my daughter and I have been enjoying their presence immensly.  I’ll keep my BirdCam pointed at my hummingbird feeder and see what I can catch over the next few weeks.  In the meantime, here are some hummers that made it to my yard.  Great, clear, quality shots…from behind.  Still worth a look.  Can’t wait until I can catch a few from the front feeding on some nectar!  For now, enjoy:

Just Landed.

Now it’s time to eat!

Doves and House Finches

July 23rd, 2008

My platform feeder continues to be active!  The feeder is just outside from where I work.  It is so nice to look out from my desk and see all the birds feeding.

I think my BirdCam may have been a little out of focus, so these shots aren’t the best.  But, there were a few fun ones that I wanted to share.

Dove at Feeder

Another Dove at Feeder

I’ve been enjoying the doves at my feeder lately.

Red House Finches at Feeder

Love those bright red House Finches!

Flying Bird

Gotta love the action shots!

Hummingbird Drinks From Straw

July 17th, 2008

I hesitate to post this picture, as a bit of controversy has erupted around it.  But, the photographer got a really amazing shot…so I couldn’t resist!

First the controversy:  Apparently, this photographer knows a lot more about photography than he does about the Internet.  His photograph became popular on a social networking site,  This is one of the most popular social networking sites, so getting “dug” is considered quite an honor.  There are millions of websites that would kill for the type of free publicity that this photographer received.  While this says something special about his picture, the photographer didn’t seem to understand what was happening.  He recognized that he was getting a lot of traffic, and then accused digg of stealing his picture, which was copyrighted.  Of course, all digg did was to link to a picture that was publicly available on the Internet.  I’m about to do the same thing…hence my hesitation to make this post.  Anyway, after accusing digg and its users of copyright infringement, the digg community got understandably upset, and overreacted to the situation, just as the photographer had done earlier.  Their comments started to get a little nasty.  The photographer removed the photo, but eventually realized that linking is not copyright infringement.  He apologized and put the photo back up.  Anyway…quite the drama!  :)

But, that doesn’t negate the fact that this is quite a shot.  Check it out and read about how he took it.  Fun stuff!

Click Here to See a Hummingbird Drink From a Straw!

Pretty fun, eh?  :)

10 Incredible Hummingbird Facts

July 16th, 2008

This post was inspired by an email from Don Pratt, who runs a website with some beautiful hummingbird pictures.  It’s really a followup to Birding Depot’s Fun Hummingbird Facts.

Today, a Hummingbird flew up to my window, and hovered in front of me for a few seconds.  It’s always amazing to have such a close encounter with such an amazing bird.  They truly are incredible creatures.  Here are ten reasons why:

1. Hummingbirds only live in North and South America.
2. The Bee Hummingbird of Cuba is the smallest hummingbird.  It weighs less than any U.S. coin, even a dime!  Click here to see how small this bird is.
3. The Giant Hummingbird of South America is the largest hummingbird.  It is a 8 1/2 inches in length – about as large as a Starling!
4. Hummingbirds need to eat constantly.  They can easily starve in as little as two to four hours.  Overnight, hummingbirds don’t require as much energy.  However, they generally have just enough energy to make it to the next meal in the morning.
5. At night, hummingbirds can slow their metabolism and heart rate to save energy.
6. Hummingbirds can fly backwards!
7. It is commonly believed that hummingbirds can’t walk.  In fact, we have the same information on our Fun Hummingbird Facts page.  However, in a recent email with Don Pratt, he writes,”A common misconception. I’ve seen HBs walk on large mandavilla leaves no trouble at all. They simply seldom need to walk.”
8. Hummingbird eggs are tiny – about the size of a pea.
9. Females exclusively care for their eggs.
10. It takes about two and a half weeks for hummingbird eggs to hatch.

Switching from Blogger to WordPress

July 14th, 2008

Yesterday I sat down and tried to start making my blog look a little snazzier.  The default templates in blogger were fine, but I wanted more flexibility.  I was delighted to find templates, backgrounds, clip art, fonts, and more — all available for free on the net.  So, I found a few templates I liked and decided to try them out.  I read several informative articles, so I felt well prepared for the task ahead.

But a curious thing happened.  The menus on Blogger looked nothing like the ones I read about.  I tried cutting and pasting templates in, but they wouldn’t work.  Strange.  For the next two hours, I searched the web in pursuit of an answer.  I never found it — but, I had developed a hunch about this conundrum.  When I clicked on “Customize Design”, blogger spit out, “Blogger Layouts customization is not supported for blogs hosted on non-Blog*Spot servers.”  This was fine and dandy…but I didn’t want to customize a Blogger layout; I wanted to import another template from the web.  Still…I wondered if this was related to my problem.  So, I created a test blog that was not hosted on my server.  Sure enough, the menus that the guides spoke of were there.

So….This left me with a sticky situation.  If I wanted to host my own blog, I could not customize its design.  I finally decided that I was neither willing to forgo customizations, nor was I willing to host my blog on Blogger.  It was time for a change.

Luckily, there is a great alternative!  WordPress.  And here it is!  There were a few hiccups, but pretty soon, my blog was back!  :-)   I’m happy to say that WordPress allowed me to import all my previous blog posts and comments.  I was even able to customize the links that WordPress uses, so all links to my blog should still work!  This is my first attempt at customizing a blog, and credit is certainly due to those who designed the template I started with.  I hope you like it…we’ll see what I can do in the future.

Incredible Hummingbird Video

July 13th, 2008

I found this video and it blew me away. For anyone having trouble attracting hummingbirds, this video will either drive you nuts, or fill you with hope.

I think it’s time for me to put another hummingbird feeder out! :)

Here is some more great hummingbird action from this Hummingbird Haven.

Platform Feeder

July 10th, 2008

My New Feeder!

I’ve had a questionable past with my platform feeder and squirrels, but I think I’ve finally solved my squirrel problem. I originally put up this feeder to encourage Scrub Jays to visit my yard. They are always around my neighborhood, but they don’t seem to want to visit my feeder. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get Scrub Jays to visit regularly, but I have found a ton of finches that are eager for Sunflower seeds. Here’s my story:

This feeder hangs from a huge 28 inch branch hook on my Magnolia tree. It is an inexpensive, recycled platform feeder made by Rubicon. I was hoping that the squirrels in my yard wouldn’t be able to reach the feeder because the branch hook was so massive. While I was happy with the branch hook because it allowed me to hang feeders from high, thick branches on a big tree, it certainly didn’t do anything for squirrel protection. After a few stray birds visited the feeder, the squirrels took over for the next month.

Something had to be done! So, I bought a 12″ squirrel baffle. The feeder was 12″ and so I figured a 12″ baffle would be perfect. Apparently, I hadn’t thought this out too well. The baffle was round and the feeder was square, so this left the sides of the feeder exposed. Pretty soon after that, the squirrels were tipping the feeder over using this corner and collecting their bounty below. Sigh….

So, I took the next step, a put out a 20″ squirrel baffle. Then, the moment of truth. A squirrel carefully climbed down the hook and rested on top of the baffle. Ever so slowly, it crept toward the edge of the baffle…and FELL! I felt kind of bad for the squirrel, but my feeder was now for the birds.

The first few days I had this new setup out, the birds avoided it. But then, a stray House Finch sampled the seed, and pretty soon, the feeder was teeming with birds. Here a few pictures I took with my BirdCam.

Sitting Outside Under a Tree

July 8th, 2008

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately sitting under the trees in my backyard. The weather has been perfect – the breeze is blowing; the sun is shinning. Spending time with friends in the shade of our Magnolia tree, I’ve watched as birds have come and gone, sampling sunflower seeds and dining on Nyjer.

Looking up through the canopy at the waiting birds, who will soon swoop down to my feeder, I notice the spots on the belly of a finch. A dove and a bright male house finch dine peacefully next to each other. Strange that these birds could so easily coexist, when just yesterday I watched two female house finches fighting for dominance at my feeder.

My friends have sat under this very same Magnolia tree, with branches and vines from smaller trees dotting the sky, laughing and talking. How nice it is to spend time outside with nothing in particular to do.