Thursday, December 19, 2013

Wildlife Incident Report

Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus)
(The image accompanying this post is a detail from a woodcarving of a Sharp-shinned Hawk by Tim McEachern of Nature's Way.  It captured the intimidating look of this raptor better than photographic images I reviewed.)

Kali is using up some of her vacation time before the end of the year, so she stayed home today and slept in.  I came home around noon and we had lunch together.  Just as we had finished eating, we heard the muffled sound of breaking glass.  "Damned cats!  What have they gotten into now?"  But everything seemed copacetic on the feline front.

Then I went out into the enclosed porch.  The porch is attached to the back of the house on the second floor and, as such, is at least 10 feet off the ground.  The porch was likely built along with the rest of the 1925 addition to the house and is enclosed with 10 large (3' x 4') single pane windows permanently caulked into wooden frames.


Once I got out on the porch, I saw that one of the windows was shattered and a raptor lay crumpled on the floor amid shards of glass.  Great...either this magnificent bird's dead or I've got to make a trip to the wildlife rehab clinic an hour away.

When I approached the bird, though, it gather itself together, spread it's wings, opened its beak, and glared at me to make itself look as fearsome as possible.  It worked, and I backed off.  I went out to get a heavy blanket to throw over the bird, but when I got back, the bird had jumped up onto the windowsill.  Within a few seconds, it had found the hole in the glass and flown off.

A very large female Sharp-shinned Hawk has been patrolling my bird feeder for the last few weeks, and she must have been chasing a fleeing victim or she saw a reflection in the window and tried to confront a rival.  All's well that ends well (for the bird).  For me, now I've got to try to get the window replaced.

8 comments:

packrat said...

Wow! Quite an incident, Scott. So glad the hawk was okay. We have birds flying into our windows frequently despite the raptor silhouettes I've put up and the reflective window decals that are supposed to keep the birds away. No major catastrophes so far, but it always makes me wince when I hear one slam into a window.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

Not only sharp-shinned but sharp-eyed and sharp-witted too. I say this having tried to get a magpie out of our school hall recently. Despite having flown in through an open window it could not find its way out again. In order to persuade it to leave I had to draw curtains and blinds across all the other windows, leaving the open window uncovered and turn lights off - after about half an hour it took the hint and left. And members of the crow family are supposed to be intelligent!

Scott said...

Packrat: This is the first time in 25 years that any bird has hit this "wall of windows" with enough force to break through the glass (which, as I said, is only single pane). I've now considered putting hawk silhouettes on the windows, but hearing your lack of success with this technique is giving me second thoughts.

Scott said...

John: Your magpie strategy was absolutely brilliant! I'm going to keep it in my mental toolbox when such situations arise! Despite its intelligence, the magpie might have been so befuddled and confused that it couldn't figure out what to do at first.

Mark P said...

We have had a few birds hit our sliding glass doors. At my mother's house it was a different story, but that's probably because of the closeness of trees to her windows.

Scott said...

Mark: We have "window strikes" pretty frequently, but his was our first "breakthrough." I haven't seen the hawk around the feeder since this happened; perhaps it's been chastened.

robin andrea said...

We have put framed netting over our largest windows. It really cuts down on bird strike deaths. They still fly straight into it, but bounce right off. Birds can survive a strike, but mostly they don't. They fly away and succumb to their injuries later. I hope your sharp-shinned is lucky.

Scott said...

Yours is a good suggestion, Robin Andrea. A nature center near me has done this to protect a large window near their bird feeding station.