Attention must be paid.

Attention must be paid.

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It's not.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

2 more at my house

I was out of town from Thursday, October 9 through yesterday, the 13th. My sister-in-law stayed at our house while we were gone, and heard two thumps. She couldn't find one of them at all, and the other, "one of those little brown birds, bigger than a sparrow I think," sat on the ground for a minute before flying. So that adds two more to the Peabody Street toll.

2 Unknown

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Another Yellow-rump at Essentia

Rob writes:

I found a dead yellow rumped warbler on Wed Oct 1st about 2pm, looked like it had hit a window at the 1st street Essentia in Duluth. Thanks for recording all this.  Should we put out feeders for the poor migrants? 
Yellow-rumped Warblers don't digest seed, but have been visiting my suet feeders this fall. I'm not sure how nutritious suet is for them in the long run, but Yellow-rumps have the capacity to digest many foods other warblers cannot, so in this case I'm trusting their judgment. It is such an awful feeling that these tiny birds can't count on us big, smart humans, isn't it?

1 Yellow-rumped Warbler

Huge numbers of birds are also being killed by cars, too.

I'm not going to keep track of auto-killed birds during this fall-out because I honestly don't know how. But it's a horribly serious problem. I wrote about birds killed by cars in a similar fall-out in 1991 in my book For the Birds, and we've experienced at least four of these events since I lived in Duluth. They're rare enough to not warrant regular action, but huge enough to warrant emergency action, if people care enough to be willing to go along with lowering the speed limit on Hwy. 61 during these unique periods. 

Jo writes:

At the advice from Lisa Johnson regarding a post I made on Duluth Phenology Facebook page, I am emailing you to let you know that I have found a couple of dead warblers in my pasture, which is away from any roads or windows.  I'm pretty sure they were Yellow Rumps and I can go back out tomorrow and photograph them if I can relocate them.   I am on Korkki Rd about 1 mile west of Homestead Rd.  I am also seeing alot of dead warblers on the road and sadly, I know I have hit a number of them when I've been out.  Would you like any more information about them?
I will publish reports here, though these birds won't count within our running total of window-killed birds in the Duluth-Superior area.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Duluth Outskirts

I'm including Lakewood Township, because it's right on the edge of being part of Duluth, and some birds seen at Hawk Ridge are actually over Lakewood Twp. I got this letter today from Heather:

Just read the article in the Duluth News Tribune, I am really upset - I have had over 40 birds hit my windows in the past month.  My brother down the road has had over 20.  I live on West Beech Street in Lakewood Township.  I don’t know the types of birds real well, but a woodpecker died, a brown bird with yellow belly, six other types of birds died - multi-color, then yesterday - I was working from home and over 20 little brown birds kept hitting my window all day.  Most did not die, but a few did - it was very upsetting!  I have black bird cutouts on the windows - they do not seem to work.  Thanks for educating us on the migration problems!  I hope they will survive this transition.  Any suggestions on what to do are greatly appreciated!
So this adds:
60 unknown

Brown Creeper

This little Brown Creeper was found under the windows at Essentia Health Center today, and released in the woods.

1 Brown Creeper.

Citizen scientists come in all ages

Got this this morning:

My name is Arthur, and I'm 6.
So far this fall, I have helped 3 small brown and yellow birds get back to their flock after hitting our windows.
Unfortunately, one additional bird was found dead, and it could not be helped - it was another little brown one. 
White-throated Sparrows can have very conspicuous yellow on the face between the eye and bill (the lore), and Yellow-rumped Warblers have yellow on the rump, shoulders, and crown, so these are counted in the "unknown" category.

4 Unknown

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Reports taken from blog comments (so it's easier to keep track)

1 Robin at 26th Ave. E. and First St.

Northshore window with bird-saving netting

When windows present a hazard, they can be too expensive to replace. Some kinds of screening and netting can solve the problem Netting should be a couple of inches at least from the glass, so that birds with long beaks can't hit the window before the netting stops them. It also needs to be reasonably taut, again to prevent birds from hitting the window despite the netting and also so that when a bird does collide with the netting, it works something like a trampoline.

Jan and John Green, respected conservationists and all-around wonderful people, live up the shore a ways. They installed netting on their house, and sent photos today.

Click on the photos to see them enlarged. 

Reports received October 7

Steve writes:

On October 4th at about 1:00 p.m. about 100 Robins landed on the lawn around our house on the Woodland/Pleasant View hillside of Duluth.  The photo below only captures a few of them.   We have had various birds hitting the house, but only getting stunned.

However, I did find one Yellow-rumped Warbler and a Dark-eyed Junco that actually died over the weekend.
That adds
1 Yellow-rumped Warbler
1 Dark-eyed Junco

Audrey Evers, an excellent birder, writes:

On Saturday, the 4th. Oct. On the way to Duluth we observed thousands of mostly White-Th. Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos on Hwy 4. There were some warblers also. Most of them were feeding on the sides of the roads and I don't think we hit any.  As we were doing errends in Duluth we also noticed many warblers moving from the lake up the hill, even weaving in and out of traffic. Because the traffic was moving slowly there were probably fewer killed in the city. 
We attended a play at UMD and exited through a door in the Civil engineering building about 9:30pm. There were birds lying dead on the sidwalk just through the exit. I counted at least 8 Magnolia warblers, a couple of Yellow-rumped warblers and one Tennesee which was stunned, but showed no blood and wings intact, so I hope he survived. The doorway had tall windows above the exit and was brightly lighted from within. I cringed as soon as I saw the dead birds, knowing that the same catastrophy was undoubtedly occurring  at many other windows on the campus. We have written a letter to the Chancellor at UMD to inform the University of our concern. 
I did go to the website mentioned in Sam Cook's column, "", but it is a company that manufactures screening devices. I have had success on my home windows with the decals of hawks which you need to affix to the outside of the window. I have also had success with simply taping strips of "engineering ribbon" to the outsides of the window. This is very inexpensive and can be taken down once all the migrants have passed through. I am really pleased that the bird-loving community is working on the Viking stadium window problem, but as last weekend's devastation should illustrate, we have problems closer to home also. 
Thank you for your efforts to help solve the problem. Sorry this is so lengthy.
This adds:
8 Magnolia Warblers (I double checked with Audrey, who knows her birds, so this is likely to be accurate)
 2 Yellow-rumped Warblers
1 Tennessee

We're the Twin Ports, so might as well include Superior

James writes:

I would like to report the death of one Yellow Rumped Warbler that took place at the front door of the Barko Hydraulics Engineering office building, 1 Banks Ave Superior, Wisconsin.
I noticed the bird at 4:00PM on 10-06-2014.  Did not take a picture since I became aware of this blog today, and the bird had already been disposed of.

I will keep alert to any more migrating bird deaths and report them to your blog.
This adds
1 Yellow-rumped Warbler

3 more White-throated Sparrows, these at St. Mary's

On October 6, Sarah writes:

I discovered these three white-throated sparrows dead below St. Mary's windows that face 3rd st. this afternoon at around 3 pm. The birds that are on the grate were from the same section of window right before the main entrance to the hospital.

This adds:
3 White-throated Sparrows

Monday, October 6, 2014

October 5 and 6 reports

October 5:

Tim writes:
My daughter and I found this bird at Mt Royal Grocery yesterday at 2:30.  I suspect it hit one of the windows overhead.  It was gone by the time we finished shopping; hopefully it recovered and flew off.
That little mite is a White-throated Sparrow, and it's almost as adorable as Tim's daughter. It adds:
1 White-throated Sparrow

October 6:

One report from Duluth East High School

2 Yellow-rumped Warblers
2 White-throated Sparrows

What we Duluthians should start doing

I just got a friendly reminder from a reader in Chicago about how valuable it would be to do serious monitoring of window collisions in Duluth. If we do it early enough in the morning, we can often rescue birds that hit during their nocturnal migration. Of course, many birds hit low windows, such as the warblers that hit my own house window, during the daytime, but the tall buildings downtown and at the airport are probably causing the biggest number of deaths at night.

I think we should start our own windows monitoring program. I'll talk to people at Duluth Audubon, but really, I should have gotten the ball rolling on this decades ago.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

28 more carcasses at Duluth Airport

Penny Schwarze, whose discovery of 20 dead birds at the Duluth International Airport windows inspired this project, went back to the airport today. She writes:

I just went out to the airport and, sadly, found more carnage. I quickly counted 28 dead birds under the windows on the east side (arrival side) of the terminal. Here are some pictures - I hope they are helpful (cheap camera...). Is there anything else I can do?
These include 3 Yellow-rumped Warblers, 1 Palm Warbler, 1 Dark-eyed Junco

2 Palm Warblers and 3 Yellow-rumped Warblers

1 Yellow-rumped Warbler

1 Yellow-rumped Warbler

1 Nashville Warbler

Killer window (look beneath!)

Heartbreaking as this is, it's only by reporting all these tragic deaths that we'll be able to raise awareness of this awful issue so we can inspire people to 1) Stop constructing these bird-killing structures in the first place; 2) change killer glass where feasible; 3) get up netting, American Bird Conservancy Bird Tape, or other way of at least reducing the number of kills where changing the glass isn't feasible.

What can Penny, and all of us, do to help? Every time you see a bird killed or injured in a collision in Duluth, Minnesota, please report it. You can post comments to this blog or send as emails to me at If you can, photograph the birds, but if not, at least report what species it/they are (if you know--just giving a description is good enough to count), the date, and the place. We won't put in addresses of private residences, but your neighborhood will be worth noting. We're starting with this fall, but have already missed two months of major migration. If you noted a bird collision earlier this season in Duluth, it can be added to our totals.

If you know anyone who works at the airport, or at other Duluth buildings with expanses of glass, ask them to pay attention.

Also, this body of data is open for anyone to use for research or conservation purposes.

This adds to our running total:
8 Yellow-rumped Warblers
3 Palm Warblers
1 Nashville Warbler
1 Dark-eyed Junco
15 Unknown

More bird deaths today, these at Northland Construction

My friend Peggy writes:

These birds were dead under one wall of huge windows by Northland Construction on Rice Lake road.
The carnage here included
1 Yellow-rumped Warbler
2 Ruby-crowned Kinglets.

So many birds, too many windows. Death at a single building at UMD today.

These birds were found dead today at UMD. My friend Peggy sent this message:

The UM.D. student fitness center has two stories of floor-to-ceiling wall-to-wall plateglass windows. These dead birds were found on the ground outside today.
As far as I can tell, they are, from top left,

1 Nashville Warbler
3 White-throated Sparrows
4 Yellow-rumped Warblers.

What a horrifying waste.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

October 4: More warblers at my windows.

Palm Warbler
Almost ready to fly out the window.
I do most of my work from home, so am painfully aware when birds hit the window. This year, we had virtually no collisions all year, including this spring when we had a huge warbler migration. But here it is, the second day of starting this website, and four more warblers hit my window--all at the second story window right next to my desk that has feeders affixed. I've never had birds hit this window before, and these weren't feeder birds. This Palm Warbler was the only one who hit hard. I actually thought the poor thing would die within minutes--one eye was closed, and its breathing was labored. So I did what I tell people to do--put it in a dark box in my office. But I did not do the one thing I emphasize people must do--never ever open the box indoors.

Fortunately, the little thing flew to some bookshelves, then onto a Japanese wall hanging, then over to my plants. Meanwhile, I immediately closed one set of shades and opened the windows at my desk all the way, with towels draped over the actual panes of glass so it wouldn't collide all over again. It took over 2 hours between it colliding and it finally flying off. Its flight was fine, but it was confused for most of the time. It's so scary realizing it may have a subdural hematoma or other internal injury, but by the time I took this photo, it seemed fine. 

So today's total was one Palm Warbler and three Yellow-rumps, just here. With the hundreds--probably thousands--of birds in my own yard today, I can't imagine how many other collisions were taking place in Duluth. I'm so relieved that this photo is of a bird that has at least a 50 percent chance of making it--I did not want to be photographing a carcass.

1 Palm Warbler
3 Yellow-rumped Warblers

Friday, October 3, 2014

A few ways to make your windows bird-safe.

To minimize crashes of birds visiting our feeders, it’s always wisest to place the feeders right on or within 3 feet the windows—if birds still don’t notice the glass and take off and collide with the window, they won’t have enough speed to injure themselves. Feeders placed far away from the windows—at least 20 or 30 feet—can also be safe because at that distance, the birds are more likely to key in on the whole house than the windows.

Pileated Woodpecker

Feeder placement doesn’t make a bit of difference in the case of Ovenbirds and other insectivores that just happen to be in our yards. To protect all birds, one approach is to break up reflections in the glass using closely spaced decals or special tape on the outside of the glass. The American Bird Conservancy sells a special tape designed specifically for this purpose. Another approach is to get screening or netting on the outside of the window, as taut as a trampoline and set 3 or more inches from the glass.

Some effective bird-friendly windows:

Here's some window screening on a Rowe Sanctuary window, designed by The Bird Screen Company:

Bird Screening

Bird Screening

The huge window overlooking the bird-feeding station at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is bird-safe thanks to the taut netting covering the window.

The window glass is on the inside of the framing, and the netting on the outside, far enough from the glass to work like a trampoline if birds do hit.

These windows at the Quarry Hill Nature Center in Rochester, Minnesota, are angled downward. Birds at the nearby feeding station see ground, not sky or trees, reflected, so don't fly toward the glass.

The EPA lab in Duluth, where my husband works, was a constant source of avian mortality during migration until people working there started covering the windows with netting in spring and fall. This has worked effectively for many years.

The view from inside is still quite nice.

Some birds do start noticing glass when they can spend time near it. Watch this young Evening Grosbeak figure it out. It could still easily collide with glass, just as people do when a glass door isn't properly marked, but not one of the Evening Grosbeaks visiting this window feeder collided with my windows.

This Black-capped Chickadee knows to tap on the window to catch my attention if s/he wants a mealworm.

Tragic Irony: First Collision Reported Here Was at MY House

Yellow-rumped Warbler
This Yellow-rumped Warbler hit my window in the Lakeside neighborhood on October 3 at 10:50 am or so.  

Thousands of migrants are coursing through Duluth today. We've had several heavy songbird migration days this fall when I've been home, but this was the first "thud" I've heard, and this poor little Yellow-rumped Warbler's head injury was the result.

Yellow-rumped Warbler
The partly closed left eye is a sign of a head injury. The bird was also unable to grasp with one foot at first.
The little guy was hunkered down, right side up at least, at the base of my box elder, and readily let me pick him up. I regret not keeping him indoors to let him feed on mealworms before releasing, but within 2 minutes the eye was open and the foot grasping, and since I don't have a good indoor flight situation anymore, I figured on balance he might be better off just going.

Daniel Klem conducted a study which indicated that about 50 percent of the birds that take off after hitting windows survive. I don't like those odds--it's so comforting to think that when they fly off, they'll be just fine. But this is exactly why we need to confront this problem!

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Last look--he flew here by himself, and was just about to disappear. Good luck, little guy!
At 2:15 pm, a second Yellow-rump glanced against the window. It started dropping, but caught itself in flight and flew off. I hope it doesn't have any injuries, but the sound was a lot quieter than when the other warbler hit. Had two more about 4 pm--again, they both flew off without any obvious injuries. So FOUR Yellow-rumped Warbler strikes in one day.

4 Yellow-rumped Warblers

Thursday, October 2, 2014

What birds are killed in collisions in Duluth?

American Redstart and Tennessee Warbler
This American Redstart and Tennessee Warbler were killed at a small window on a brick building in downtown Duluth on September 8, 2005. I picked them up just after dawn. This was when I was working downtown. I should have recorded the exact address, but didn't think of it.

What birds are injured and killed in collisions in Duluth? The new airport windows are definitely killers: on September 21, 2014 (a sunny day), Penny Schwarze came across about 20 dead small yellow/light brown birds (probably mostly warblers) under the airport windows at around 2:30 pm.

Penny's sad discovery is what led me to start this website, to document and publicize these kills so we can try to persuade the Airport and other building owners and managers to initiate changes, such as netting and turning lights out, to prevent these tragic and wasteful losses.

Please send me photos of birds you find killed or injured by collisions in Duluth, Minnesota. If you can't identify the birds, that's okay, but make sure to include the date and place. If you don't have photos but can accurately report the number of birds you found dead, their identities if known, and the date and place, we can add posts for those, but obviously photos are more compelling and authoritative. The photo above was taken in 2005—it was the only one I had handy—but for now, let's restrict this blog to collisions starting in 2014.

Email photos or information, along with the date and place, to me at Let me know how you want me to identify you, or if you'd prefer to remain anonymous. Please make the subject heading Bird Collision.