fight and flight

An alarming BOOM that came from the living room. The sound startled me but I was pretty sure I knew what it was whereas my friend’s eyes grew wide and concerned. What WAS that? she asked. I cringed as I told her a bird had hit our window. I’ve already buried one robin this fall.

Most of the time it’s a subtle tap and they fly off but this sounded like a broken neck. We looked a full story down to our driveway to see my big black cat, hunched and excited with a limp robin in his teeth. Damnit.  Sam looked up at me when I shouted his name and begrudgingly dropped the bird on her back. Her rusty feathered chest rapidly heaved up and down. She’s still alive I screeched as I peeled outside and down to her, Sam watching from a few feet away. 
I’ve killed injured animals before. I’ve hauled mangled dead animals, large and small, off the highway. I hate it. But I do it. I actually think it is one of my purposes, to help these animals. And because of that, I encounter it a lot. They find me. I thought I’d have to end this bird’s suffering but when I picked her up she looked at me and settled into my palm. Her oily eyes blinking slowly, her beak paralyzed open with stressful gasps. I called Ruby and her friend to come study the delicate creature up close and then we made her a little nest and placed her in the sun. 
She tipped back, her little bobble head looking at the sky. She was unable to use her legs but her wings seemed in tact. She might be ok we said hopefully. I repositioned her as I imagined I’d like to lay if I were a freaked out and hurt bird. Eventually her beak closed and her breathing slowed. She settled on her belly. Ruby and Magnolia made a seat next to the robin and watched as she gained strength and confidence and, eventually, flew away.
Sometimes it seems like there is no way. Sometimes a thing seems so broken, odds stacked against survival and success. And sometimes all it takes is a little love, a little belief, a little attention. A safe nest and hopeful hearts. And flight happens. 

29 Responses to fight and flight

  1. aase says:

    In September, I bought a handful of upcycled lanterns (made from glass insulators – from electric wires, I think) to hang in my front porch. Home for lunch one day, 3 birds smacked into the side of my house, trying, of course, to nest in these tempting, shiney, hanging things. One bird died. The other 2 shook it off and flew away. I repositioned the lanterns so as not to be in the middle of the windows.


    Thanks for taking good care of the animals. (Did Olive ever come home?)

  2. @aase:

    I feel like we need to figure something out with this one big window. We don’t want curtains there but surely there is something we can do? Still no Olive.


  3. ,,,your compassion, love, tender care, and concern always makes my heart smile,,,

  4. ,,,I have an idea…decorate your window with the autumn leaves that have fallen to the ground. And every season change the window with what nature serves up,,,

  5. ,,,p.s. we have a neighbor who has a sweet bird feeder attached to her front window. It’s fun to watch the birds feed from it. Just another idea for the window, and I bet your handsome, talented hubby could design something similar,,,

  6. Maggie says:

    “A safe nest and hopeful hearts. And flight happens.”

    Damn you, Dig! Damn you and your perfect words.

  7. Helen says:

    “Sometimes it seems like there is no way. Sometimes a thing seems so broken, odds stacked against survival and success. And sometimes all it takes is a little love, a little belief, a little attention. A safe nest and hopeful hearts. And flight happens.”

    Made me cry. In a good way. I needed to here this. thank you.

  8. ctb says:

    oh shit damn.
    i really needed this.
    so thank you.
    thank you.
    thank you.

  9. Meghan says:

    I’ve heard of some people putting bird decals/silhouettes on windows and that supposedly deters the collision. Bird silhouettes rock, so it’s all good.

    I come here every week and am never disappointed. Always inspired.

  10. Rebecca says:

    When the angle of the sun is right, our front picture window has had its share of birds crash into it. None quite as severely as your robin, it seems. I’ve seen decals promoted as a way to stop birds from crashing into windows. A quick google search got me to this page:
    I’m sure, with some investigating & you’re great creativity; you could find or make something that works for you.

  11. yes, hopeful hearts makes it all possible, makes it all go ’round. sweet story, friend.

  12. Margie says:

    There wa ssomething oNPR not too long ago about hpw tp prevent this. Scientists wer etrying different patterns on the glass to convince birds it wasn’t a passage. Maybe a frosted glass pattern on your big picture window? I would hate to ruin the view, but it might help the birds…

  13. Margie says:

    Darn ipad typing… Sorry for the myriad typos.

  14. Meadowlark says:

    Ahhhh! put some stickers on the window!

  15. @meadowlark: We’ve recently looked into this. Have you had success with it? We are going to try it! We didn’t have any issues until the last few weeks.

    This site has a bunch of great suggestions too!

  16. Jasmine says:

    We put a black silhouette of a swallow (so it looks like a shadow on a flat surface) on the window near our feeder. We still get a few collisions, but not too many. Also, a suction cup bird feeder, near the decal is good because they typically aim to land on the feeder, instead of the reflected branches in the window. Good luck!

  17. Darlene says:

    This made me cry. I loved your words and your compassion and your hope. I am going through some serious ugly stuff right now, and your blog-post was a message of hope for me, today, when I needed it so much. Thank you!

  18. Rhett says:

    My mom has little stick-on concentric circles on her big window. They look like the glass is etched. I believe they work pretty well.

  19. TRB Holt says:

    You are indeed my daughter…baby bunny from pool skimmer~check, dog hit by car~check, baby fawn whose mother birthed it on a road~check, birds who fell out of nest~check, badger in deep egress window~check, bats from cabin, with your help ;),~check, worms off sidewalks after a heavy rain~check & too many turtles from highways to count! I love you for this Burb and what a wonderful thing to teach your daughters!

    I heard wind chimes are a sure fix, and nice to listen to also. I called a friend of mine….she has this cool thing on her big picture window to prevent bird crashes. This is what she bought:


  20. kate says:

    That last paragraph … Pure sweet love. Thank you!

  21. You’re an amazing girl Nici.
    Again, you’ve delivered.

    We call our new house ‘the house of glass’ because 90% of the back is made of giant windows {to overlook the forest}. As much as we love it….the windows have taken 2 birdies lives this year :( Not cool!


  22. I chuckled at bit at the beginning of the third paragraph because yes, duh, this is totally one of your purposes.

    Love your blog!

  23. melinda says:

    Simply lovely. Thank you.

  24. Ellie says:

    What a lovely metaphor.

  25. melinda says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  26. Jaim says:

    Every spring we get Mountain Bluebirds that come to our bluebird house just outside the girls’ bedroom window. This spring, for the first time since we’ve moved here, both the mama and the papa flew smack into one of our big front windows. I thought they were goners for sure and my heart broke thinking that we wouldn’t be able to watch our little bluebird family this year. We watched and waited and about 2 hours later they were back to their usual antics. I wondered and worried about what had caused it and after much consideration, I decided on that fact that my Sibley bird book was on the sill. These bluebirds go after their own reflection in the windows and on our car rear view mirrors so have shown a lot of aggression toward other birds. Maybe there’s something in your window that’s bringing them…or maybe they just get mixed up. Good luck with the silhouettes and keep us posted.

    Beautiful text and photos per usual. I love the one of Ruby and her friend with the bird in the background.

  27. April says:

    I’ve had good success with Window Alert decals. They’re unobtrusive (the ones I got are small 4″ almost clear squares). We have a bunch of windows and trees around the house and had several fatal bird strikes before I found the decals. They’re fairly cheap, too, I think $11 for 4. Though you do have to replace them about once a year, I think.

  28. April says:

    I also read that stringing up feathers, like on fishing line or something, across your windows will keep birds away. That sounds like a fun art project for your kiddies. :)

  29. Jenny says:

    Maybe a big fake owl sitting on the window ledge? :)

    Glad to hear this little one made it. We’ve found a few dead birdies under our window and it’s always so heartbreaking.