Thursday, June 2, 2011

The McBone Birdwatching Journal; The Dark Side of Feeding Birds

The downside of keeping feeders is a significant one indeed.  Luring birds to a residence makes them occasional targets for hawks and cats.  More often, some poor soul will take wing and chart a course toward a pane of glass.  Usually, the victim will shake it off and set sail with no harm done.  Others aren't so lucky.

The sickening, unmistakable thud of bird hitting house at full tilt had me running to the front window.  My fears were confirmed when I saw the female house finch twitching in the grass.  Right away I knew what the score was; I had seen it before.

Because it was my fault that this poor finch was suffering, I was intent on the death throes not being drawn out.  Armed with a shovel, I went outside to finish the job--one fatal thwack would do the trick.

And yet, as she lay there stunned and slightly bloodied on the crown, a cognizant glint in her eye made me hesitate.  I could not inflict a death blow just yet.  Instead, a sudden impulse had me scooping her up and taking her inside:

For a moment, she seemed to be fading, and thus drained away all hope.  When she loosed her bowels in my hands, I was sure she was bound for her final nesting place.  Shadows filled the room.  The end was nigh. 

Despairing, I relaxed my grip and, lo!, with a flurry of violent flaps, she was airborne, careening off the ceiling and walls as if our bird bath had been filled with liquor.  Our brave finch did not elude me for long.  I quickly corralled her and had her back out in the misty morning.  She was free to go, but even after the surge of energy, she seemed reticent to fly.  I sat and I let her perch on my hand, where she stayed for a solid ten minutes.  We had an understanding: I would not harm her, and she would not summon an angry flock to peck out my eyes.

At last, feeling up to the challenge, she tested her navigational controls and risked the short distance to a neighboring bush--without a hitch. 

There she remained, until, one half hour later, she took a confident, undulating path toward the woods. I was sorry her bell was rung so severely, but overjoyed that she escaped the fate that has doomed too many of her kind.

Soar on, house finch, and beware the invisible walls of McBone Manor!



Kid Shay said...

Wow, I'm going to have to watch out for this.

We've got a Western Scrub Jay who has basically taken over the joint.

McBone said...

Scrub jay! I've seen one, in Texas according to my bird book, but have no recollection. Do they make a lot of noise?