Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Not the best way to start the day


It all started as my oldest son Jamie was headed out the door to catch the bus to school. He looked out the window by the front door and I heard him say "Poor bird". That's never a good phrase and as I looked down, there sat a gorgeous White-throated Sparrow that had apparently hit a window.

The bird was on its feet and didn't look to have any obvious injuries, so I opened the door and was able to pick it up without a struggle - another bad sign. However, I looked at its eyes and they were open and clear and the bird would react to some movement. I decided to put the bird in a cardboard box for a while to see if it would recover.

After a short time I could hear it moving around and fluttering in the box which is a good sign. Figuring the bird would have a good chance at recovery, I decided to band it before I let it go. Unfortunately my banding equipment was at my school. No problem, I'll take the bird to school (about a mile away), band it and let it go there.

This is where it gets complicated. I have the box containing the bird with me in school and all my equipment is in my office but as I go to get the banding box, the bird is able to squeeze out of the box and fly up to sit on top of one of the ventilation ducts. To say that my students were surprised is an understatement. What to do?

I immediately got kids to cover our big windows with sheets of paper and I threw open the back door. The bird didn't make a break for it right away so I turned out the lights to try and get to move toward the door. Well, the obvious escape route was not obvious to the bird. It flew back toward the door but landed on the ledge of a small window near the door instead.

This was my chance, I jumped up on a students desk and without much effort was able to grab the escapee and safely get it outside. This is where the story gets better. Once the bird was under control the kids were able to get a very close up look at one of our beautiful native sparrows. That produced lots of questions and eventually a group was able to watch me band and measure the sparrow before letting it go.

What could have been a bad start to the day turned out to be a great teachable moment and the kids are already talking about making the White-throated Sparrow our class mascot.

5 comments:

Lynne said...

Thanks to the sparrow! I think unplanned learning opportunities with kids work out better that planned ones.

dAwN said...

Nice blog! I have a question....Does it confuse the bird if you let it go in a different area? What if they are breeding? Migrating?

sue said...

Teachable moments rock!

Shady Character said...

That's pretty cool! I know nothing about banding so I have to ask: Is there any way to put in its record that it was captured as a result of a window collision?

Minnesota Birdnerd said...

Hey, thanks for the comments.

Dawn asked about letting a bird go in an area different from the area in which it was caught. If the bird is migrating, it really doesn't make a difference. However, if the bird is showing signs of breeding we will take it back to the exact location where we caught it.

If a bird is the victim of a window strike and we think it will recover, we will band it. In my notes I describe it as a window strike and in the note to the Bird Banding Lab I add a note on how it was captured.