“A bird hit my window!”
This is one of the most common wildlife emergencies people encounter. Windows strikes are a common cause of death and injury among native birds, but the good news is that they can sometimes be treated and can usually be prevented.
You may notice a window-struck bird because you see it happen or because you hear it hit. The bird will usually have symptoms of concussion, including being unusually still, appearing “calm,” and being unable or unwilling to fly away when approached by humans. They may also have visibly broken wings, blood around the face, or hold their heads in a tilted position.
If this happens, please capture the bird as safely and gently as possible and call a licensed rehabilitator as quickly as you can. It’s best to put the bird into a dark, quiet place (such as a shoebox) and avoid handling it any more than absolutely necessary. Even if the bird seems “friendly,” please understand that it is extremely stressed and should not be pet or played with.
Please do not give the bird food or water while reaching out to rehabilitators, since concussed birds can drown in small amounts of water and food may make the bird sick.
While exact policies vary from rehabber to rehabber, most licensed bird rehabilitation experts agree that a bird that has hit a window needs to be admitted for rehabilitation even if it seems to “come to,” or “shake off” the concussion relatively quickly. Birds that appear to be okay may have serious internal injuries or may need a day or two of supportive care and rest. Please don’t release the injured bird unless instructed to do so by a professional.
Once you’ve gotten the injured bird to a rehabilitator (or, preferably, before this ever happens to you to begin within) please take steps to make sure it never happens again! At For Fox Sake, we use Bird Tape on large windows. We’ve had no window strikes at all since applying it, and we’ve even seen birds approach our windows, hover for a moment, and then turn around! There are several different brands and products that can make your windows less dangerous to wildlife. It’s a simple way to save lives.