Saturday, April 22, 2006

Helping Nature Along.....






Living in a wooded setting provides more blessings than one can count – but can also bring experiences unimagined by those who live surrounded by more concrete than trees.   Some of those experiences bring instant smiles, others tug at the heartstrings – and then there is the case of the suicidal robin……


The picture above is a view of the front of my home, which is unlikely to win any house beautiful awards at present.  No, there is no remodeling project going on, nor have I tried to take steps to bolster a case for a lower tax appraisal on the property.


About a week ago, I was awakened just after dawn by the sound of something hitting the bedroom window, hard.  It was a sharp thudding sound, enough to cause me to sit bolt upright in bed and attempt to make sense of it as sleep still clouded my thoughts.  There was no immediate follow-up, so I lay back down and closed my eyes.  Shortly thereafter, however, it was there again – followed quickly in succession by three or four more.  I rolled over and grabbed my glasses – just in time to see a male robin literally flinging his body with abandon against the bedroom window repeatedly.  Sometimes he would hit more with his feet and scratch at the glass for a few moments as he hovered in the air; other times he would simply take a flying start and crash chest first against the glass.


I watched in amazement for a time and then, as quickly as he had started, he disappeared.


Later in the morning, however, I glanced out the kitchen window and saw him back.  From this side view I could better gauge the force with which he would hit the glass, drop to the porch floor long enough to regroup and then launch himself again.  Occasionally he would rest by sitting quietly on the ledge at the corner of the window, intently peering inside for long periods of time and appearing docile and unperturbed by what he saw – only to then again renew his assault only moments later.


Fearing that he would ultimately hurt himself, I tried to alter his view by cracking the window open a bit and changing the angle, hoping that he was seeing his own reflection and that the different perspective would take the ‘target’ away.  When that didn’t work, I tried closing the blinds, followed by re-opening them and leaving a light on in the room.  None of these solutions worked, however, and the process repeated for several days – always beginning just after dawn and repeating for periods throughout the day until early evening.


Worried for the bird’s health (and the state of my window), I ventured out onto the porch – after first assuring myself that he was nowhere in sight – and found the general area in less-than-attractive condition.  In addition to hundreds of small greasy marks on the glass, the ledge and the porch floor appeared as you might expect them to after a bird had spent significant time encamped in the vicinity.  So I got the hose and the Windex and searched the garage for a sheet of plastic that had once served as a drop cloth from some long-ago painting project.  I affixed the plastic so that it covered the entire window, secured it top and bottom and stood back to admire my ‘handiwork’.  It was ugly as sin but serviceable – and I hoped it would solve the problem.


For three days, there was no sign of him or any telltale marks of his presence when I was not around to watch.  I congratulated myself on my ingenuity and on saving this poor tortured creature from his own delusions.  The view through the bedroom window was ruined for now, but I suspected that I only needed a few days to change his behavior and that soon all would be right with nature and the world once more.  Until yesterday morning – when the by now all-too-familiar thud awakened me again, but this time from the bathroom window NEXT to the covered bedroom window!


This bird was resourceful if misguided, but I wasn’t going to let more time pass before taking further action, so I crafted a covering of newspaper this time and have placed that over this second window in hopes he’ll finally get the message and either find a more productive and less-painful way to spend his days – or at least find someone else’s windows to help fulfill his masochistic tendencies.


For now, I appear to have the upper hand – but in the back of my mind I envision every window in the entire house wrapped in some sort of covering before this particular drama reaches its natural conclusion.  I ask your prayers for this poor silly creature – and if anyone knows the number of a good avian psychologist, I’ll take that too!


bedazzzled1 said...

Dear Lord, Rob! This is like a minature version of Hitchcock's The Birds! I would be friggin' terrified of that robin! God love you for trying to save him from himself.

Reading this made me laugh pretty hard (I so love how you tell stories), and you have no clue how much I needed a laugh right now.

::big huggggggg::

gdireneoe said...

Hi!  Thanks for popping over.  LOLOL!  I am having the EXACT same struggle right now.  I have a bank of blank stationary windows across the front of my house, with sycamores directly across.  I have TWO very persistent little devils.  I was in IM's one morning, almost two weeks ago, when the same dance you've described, began here.  We were actually talking about the cardinals in his yard when the first robin decided to try to break the barrier...scared me to was quiet in here.  My friend suggested that it might be that he could see his reflection from his post on the lower branch, and that he was being territorial.  Completely intriguing, really.  Same characteristics you've described...poor little buddy would wear himself out and sit on the ledge and rest.  It was interesting that the smaller one joined him.  Great story.  LOVELOVE the pic. ;)  C.

jeanno43 said...

Was recommended your journal so thought I would come and have a look and was glad I did.  Oh your poor windows.  Yes, it is a male Robin thing.  They are extremely territorial and will fight another male Robin to the death.  He is obviously seeing his own reflection and assuming it is a rival male.  Hope he gets tired of trying and leave you in peace.  Lovely photo.  Putting you on alert.

csandhollow said...

Find the poor soul a female!

akasamdodsworth said...


While I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment, I have already unwittingly accepted a role in suicide prevention but will hold the line at facilitating feathered flirtations!

sunflowerkat321 said...

I had this exact same thing happen last spring.  I wasn't clever enough to think to cover the window...and it went on for days.  Then, he moved to another window of the house nad continued in futility there.  Finally, he gave it up.  It was disturbing while it was going on.

mtrib2 said...

I do not have the soffits installed yet on my home addition and birds have gotten in and woke me banging against the inside of the large glass pane window to the addition.    Another small bird that has nested many years in my barn began building a nest in a roll of insulation on the floor.    I removed the nest and it would return and place more material in the same hole.    So I turned it around finally and it stopped building.    Soon I will have it closed in and no more problems for the present.    Over the years birds have tried to fly through my window only to end up on the ground trying to recover from the hit.    mark
click on my screen name for links to my journals if you would care to view them

mutualaide said...

Oh, I don't mean to laugh, but gee, this is somehow sort of funny. I've had similar difficulties with birds at our house but never thought to cover the windows.  Poor deluded bird.