Posts Tagged ‘bird’

Sunday, 9/26/2010: Busy Day with Chicago Bird Collision Monitors


I admit it, I’m a bird person. Any kind of birds. Chickens, quail, parakeets, turkeys, king vultures, golden pheasants, emus. And migratory birds. So in the fall and the spring, I help migratory birds navigate Chicago’s Loop.

A Unfortunate Banner Day

Sunday, 9/26/2010,  was a big migration day, and my team from Chicago Bird Collision Monitors picked up over 260 live birds and hundreds (I’m guessing 500-600) of dead birds in downtown Chicago.

These birds are our brightly colored, tiny treasures: warblers, thrushes, hummingbirds, sapsuckers, wrens, kinglets, brown creepers, and others. So why do they hit buildings? What’s going on?

Chicago and Migration Paths

Chicago is on a major migratory flight path between North and South America. You can see from this map (from http://www.birdnature.com/mississippi.html) that Chicago is a major intersection of migratory flyways from Canada and the northern United States.

The Draw of the Big City

Birds who are passing through in the early morning hours are drawn to the lights of the city and come down. They are attracted to lighted lobby and office windows and landscaping inside buildings. They get lost in steel and glass canyons, spiraling downward from exhaustion, not realizing that up is out.

These birds do not understand glass, so they will fly into it, thinking they can reach the trees or lights inside. Many die on the street every day in the spring and fall. They sustain head injuries from collisions with glass; they are stepped on, run over by cars, and eaten by gulls and crows. Some die of fright.

How CBCM Helps

I volunteer with Chicago Bird Collision Monitors, and once a week (or more) during the fall and spring, I walk the streets from the crack of dawn until 9 or 10, collecting injured, stunned, and dead birds.

The live birds go to Willowbrook Wildlife Center for rehab and release. The dead go to the Field Museum for documentation and research purposes.

CBCM records data from each bird found and works with building owners and management companies for LIGHTS OUT CHICAGO! a campaign to lower or turn off excess building lights during the spring and fall migrations. A few hours a year of no building lights can save lots of dollars and lots of avian lives.

How You Can Help

You can donate, volunteer, or work with your building staff to help birds navigate the Loop. Contact CBCM at 773-988-1867.

If you have an injured or dead bird, call 773-988-1867!

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Chicago’s Urban Chicken Movement Reaches Michigan Avenue


The urban chicken movement is really picking up speed here in Chicago, and this chic (chick?) new trend has reached trendy and cultured Michigan Avenue: the Chicago Cultural Center at 78 E. Randolph dedicated an exhibit to urban avian agriculture this summer.

There were pictures of Chicago’s feathered residents, a full-size coop, information and resources on raising chickens, and educational displays about hens and eggs. Martha Boyd from Angelic Organics Learning Center was instrumental in creating the exhibit, and chicken owners from around town contributed pictures of their birds and coops.

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Hello! My Name Is …: Avian Introductions


You have two hens. You want to get another hen. How many hens will you have total? How many eggs will you get? What will this do to the pecking order? Show your work. You may use a calculator if necessary.

Seriously, introducing a bird* to your flock can be a process. There are several things to consider:

1) Disease: Your birds and/or their environment may have a pathogen that could kill the new bird. For example, a bird may develop immunity to one of the nine strains of coccidia (common protozoans that are nearly ubiquitous with chicken flocks)  and may not have time to develop immunity if introduced suddenly to a flock with a different strain.

2) Social interaction: Birds are flock animals and hierarchy and social structure are based on the pecking order. Who’s on top, who’s on the bottom, and who’s in between is very important. Sudden disruptions to that system may lead to serious injury or death for a bird.

3) Environmental change: Birds, because they are prey species, are by nature suspicious critters, very wary of new surroundings, sights, and sounds. Some birds will starve to death rather than make a diet conversion. Others will take a while to settle in to new surroundings and may appear shell-shocked and uncertain in a new place for a week.

What to do?

When introducing a new bird to my flock, I follow these steps:

1) Vet the bird. Any new avian resident gets a check up at the avian vet. We check for and treat diseases, communicable or not, and assess the general condition of the bird.

2) Quarantine the bird. Check with your avian vet to see what quarantine  period he or she recommends. During the quarantine period, the new bird will probably show signs of any subclinical illness that might be present.  If this happens, repeat Step 1! If not, move on to Step 3.

3) Introduce the bird slowly to the new flock.

A. I hear you… Place the new bird in a place where it can hear the other birds but not see them. This allows the new one to get used to the sounds of the flock, and it allows the flock to get used to another bird in the area.

B. I see you… After a few days, I move the new bird’s cage so all the birds can see each other. The new bird has time to observe interactions, see its new flock, and interact more closely with them.

C. So you’re my new neighbor! Allow the bird out of the cage to interact with the other members of the flock. I usually suggest supervision for this step, and that it be done in an open area, so that if anyone needs to beat a hasty exit, it can be done.

D. Moving in! If all goes well with Step C, try caging them together. Keep a close eye out for picking around the head and eyes. If there is any sign of this, remove the picked bird immediately. This bird may have to be caged separately and may not be integrated successfully into the flock.

*Hint: It is generally easier to introduce two new birds to a flock, rather than just one. Also, it can be difficult to introduce young birds to a flock of older birds, and bantams to a flock of standard-sized birds.

If there is no picking, then congratulations! You have successfully made an avian introduction! Now put down the calculator and give yourself an A for the day!