Monday, July 28, 2008

Bird's Eye View

In the past couple of weeks four birds have smashed into the same window on the 4th floor of our office building. When that happens, I walk past their broken, lifeless bodies in the parking lot in the morning and I have to wonder, “when is someone going to clean that up?”
I also wonder why that happens so often. The folks at Wild Birds Unlimited offer these explanations:
“Some birds bang into windows because they think they see another bird in their territory, some birds fly into windows because they don’t see the window. Other birds fly into windows because they are being chased by predators.”
The “don’t see the window” theory is plausible if you use Windex. Our windows at work usually have some amount of dirt/pollutants on them such that, when the birds smack into them, there is a clear bird outline, similar to a snow angel, imprinted in the shmutz. In fact, the most recent ex-bird was flying so fast he added some of its own essence to the imprint. So I question the transparent window idea in these cases.
I can believe that a bird could meet its demise this was when being chased by predators. Some bird is out-racing a hawk, turns and sticks its tongue out and WHAM! The hawk is laughing so hard, he fails to stop and WHAM! So, why don’t I find two birds in the parking lot?
The idea that a bird sees its reflection, mistakes it for another bird and tries to attack, only to perish as it runs into “itself” seems logical at first. However, have you ever seen two birds fly headfirst into each other? If rivals attacked each other this way, wouldn’t that happen all the time. Birds don’t play “chicken” (but if they did, what would they call it?)
The absolute worst suggestion is from, who suggest:
“Typically birds fly into windows (because) they have terrible depth perception and cannot tell how far away the window actually is."
So the bird is thinking, “I’m going to fly full tilt toward this window and pull out at the last second which is ri….WHAM! oh, shit.” If birds’ depth perception is that bad, they would be flying smack into tree trunks and sides of houses, not just windows. How would they land on those little perches on bird feeders? The expressions, “hawk eye”, and “eagle eye” would be applied to Mr. Magoo, not to Indian guides.
How can we really know if any of these theories are correct; we don’t know what the bird is thinking. What is the last thing that goes through a bird’s mind when it hits a window? Its beak.
I don’t know why the birds fly into windows but I know why the caged bird bangs:
Baretta: (to the Judge)” But if you try to put him in a cage, he's gonna bang up against that cage, and bang up against it and gonna die your honor. That's what's gonna happen to Willie. You take him away from us, and you're gonna kill him, and if he dies, we are all gonna die a little bit. Please save him your honor, please save all of us.” Keep your eye on the sparrow, son.

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