February 14, 2007

La Gringa saves a bird

Yellow-winged TanagerYellow-winged Tanager

I'm a nervous wreck. Four birds have crashed into my windows this afternoon. Two of them crashed into the window right beside me and I jumped out of my chair each time. It's amazing how a little tiny bird weighing a few ounces can sound like a grown man trying to break a door in.

We used to have this problem often but I think the local birds have gotten smarter. We have tall windows and the sky is reflected in them. It is so sad. Apparently the birds can't tell the difference between the sky and its reflection.

We didn't have windows when we first moved in (haha! − it's true) and I used to have to rescue the birds from inside the house. They would fly in and up to the ceiling and then get exhausted because they couldn't figure a way out. I have a loooong-handled brush thing to get cobwebs off the ceiling and I would stick it up by the birds. They would usually grab onto it and then I'd quickly walk to a window or door and let them loose outside.

I rescued two hummingbirds this way. Once we found a stunned baby owl on the upstairs terraza (terrace). We kept it in an upside laundry basket overnight and let it go the next day.

When we first had the windows installed, it seemed like an almost every day occurrence. Sometimes they were just stunned and after a moment, they would recover and fly away. Too often though, they didn't make it and we would find a poor dead bird laying outside the window.

For the longest time, I didn't see any bird bodies and I mentioned to El Jefe how great it was that the poor birds had finally stopped flying into the windows. He informed me that that wasn't the case. Chloe the Rottweiler was eating them.

So today, I ran to check each time it happened. Twice there was no sign of a bird so it must have flown away. Once I saw it fly away. The fourth time, I saw the poor bird laying stunned on the ground flapping around. Then I saw Chloe heading for it! I jumped out the window to rescue the poor bird. I knew if I went out the door and around to the window it would be too late.

That is the bird in the picture above. It appears to be a juvenile Yellow-winged Tanager, which is resident here on the north coast of Honduras. That little yellow mark above my ring finger is the key identifier of Yellow-winged Tanagers. The head and shoulders were a beautiful lavender-blue which really don't show up in this picture very well.

I put Chloe inside and took the bird out in back. While I was trying to figure out where to put it so it would be safe until it recovered, it flew away. Hooray! It seemed to be okay.
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