It was supper time. I was putting the finishing touches on a macaroni and cheese casserole and was ready to place it in the oven when the doorbell rang. It was the neighbor. She was holding three birds in her hands. All three flew into her windows at the same time – what we birders call “window strikes”. Two of the birds perished as a result of the blow. The other was alive with no apparent physical damage, but he remained very quiet and still. His eyes were blinking slowly. Catherine didn’t know what to do so she brought it over seeking my advice and placed the bird in my hand as if she trusted me to heal it somehow.
The little bird was a brilliant electric blue. I have seen these Indigo Buntings in the forest on my bluebird route, but they move so swiftly, I have hardly ever been able to get a good look at them. Holding it in my hand, I barely recognized what it was because it seemed so much smaller than they look in flight. I could feel the bunting’s tiny feet clinging to my finger. I thought that was a good sign. His breaths came quickly as one would expect from a frightened bird.
I examined the bird’s wings and they did not seem to be injured. But for his eyes closing and the heavy breathing, he seemed fine. Perhaps he was simply stunned by the blow. I touched him gently. He was so handsome a bird. I explained to Catherine that an unfortunate by-product of seasonal migrations is window strikes. They occur all over and with great frequency over large cities where birds flying at night are drawn toward the lights of skyscrapers. These buntings that winter in Southern Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean Islands come to the Eastern United States during the breeding season.
The little Indigo Bunting that literally dropped in on us seemed to perk up a bit. His eyes became brighter and he was no longer blinking. He was now fully alert but did not seem frightened of us, though it seems reasonable to think he would be. Then, all of a sudden, up into the hawthorn tree he flew! Good as new! Yes, he had been stunned by the blow. He sat in the tree for a while then fluttered up into higher branches until I couldn’t track him any longer.
The handsome little Indigo Bunting clinging to my finger would have made a lovely picture to share with you. Darn! Where’s the camera when you need it?