Friday, January 14, 2011

Poecile carolinensis window strike

This year I have been participating in the West Virginia Winter Bird Count so I have been very good about keeping my feeders full of goodies. When I checked on them the other day I noticed a little Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis) was laying face down on the deck just outside the glass door. My heart just dropped but when I picked it up I could tell it was still alive. I folded its wing back in place and held it cupped in my hand for a few minutes.

The chickadee looked stunned and in a daze. I checked the door and sure enough there were a few feathers stuck on the glass.

As it sat in my hand, it's mouth opened and closed as if calling but nothing came out. My first thought was that it was trying to catch its breath but in truth I have no idea what was going on with it's mouth. I brought it into the house with me to get my camera so I could take these photos. Back outside, I placed it on an old bird house I had sitting at the side of the deck and took lots of photos.

That seemed like a safe place and it could see the other birds and have the freedom to fly. It;'s foot was a little crumpled but eventually straightened out.

Once I went back inside a couple other chickadees flew to the feeders. You know how they are always the first to return, besides I had meal worms spread out for them. I noticed the stunned chickadee began to look in their direction so I could tell it was coming back into awareness. It sat there for a while but each time a bird would fly to the feeder it's awareness increased.

Soon it few off with the others and probably returned for a meal worm but since they all look alike I can’t be sure. The whole recovery took 20 minutes.

Although I regret that the bird was stunned, I did enjoy holding it in my hand and getting a very close up look. If I hadn’t seen it on my palm I would not have know it was there because it was so still and weighed hardly anything. The books say 9-12 grams.

Where I live we only have the Carolina Chickadees.  They were named by John James Audubon when he was in South Carolina. The Black-capped Chickadees are more north of the eastern panhandle of West Virginia or at higher altitudes within the state. They are in the order Passeriformes and the family Paridae.

I am really enjoying the winter bird count program and the self imposed time to sit and just observe.

About 1 billion birds are killed by flying into windows each year. Most of these are flying into large buildings. You can read more about it at
I have been lucky and haven't found any dead birds, just the stunned chickadee.

Enjoy more Camera Critters at


Ahna said...

Beautiful little bird! I very recently found one dead in my yard the VERY DAY AFTER I put up feeders. That was certainly disheartening :(

I'm glad you were able to help this one!

Steve Borichevsky said...

I had a stunned Western Tanager once that took a month before it could fly. I'm glad your friend was back to business rather quickly.

squirrel said...

Steve, now that is amazing. I don't think I would have know what to do in a case like yours. Thank goodness there are knowledgable people like you around.

Jackie C said...

I so much enjoyed seeing the great photos of your little feathered friend.It was very fortunate that it recovered so quickly.
I have so enjoyed looking at your posts, I've been 'out of circulation' for a long time, and your beautiful blog is inspiring me to get started again. Thank you!

Coy said...

Glad it wasn't seriously hurt and it certainly did give you a good time to photograph it up close.

MyMaracas said...

Chickadees are my favorite bird, and I'm so glad this little one survived its unfortunate encounter with the window. You did get a lot of very nice photos!

It is an amazing experience, isn't it, to hold a wild bird in your hand. My mother had chickadees so tame they would perch on her fingers and take seed from her palm.