A Tale Of Three Birds

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Photo by Sandy Harris
Photo by Sandy Harris
Photo by Sandy Harris

I have had such an odd experience with birds lately.  It all started about two months ago.  One evening I was driving north on I-5 and just coming out from under an over pass, all of a sudden I sensed movement to my right.  My next view was a hawk’s face as it crashed into my passenger side mirror.  An unfortunate incident and a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I remember screaming, but held my car steady as I instinctively raised my right hand to shield my face.  I thought It was coming through my window.  I wasn’t sure if I should pull over, but that didn’t seem safe to me so I continued home.  I knew by the way it hit and the sounds I heard afterwards, there was no way he or she could have survived the crash. I cried all the way home.

When I got home, I grabbed my flashlight and camera to record the damage.  I didn’t quite realize the extent of the damage until the following day.  Not only had it taken my mirror off, the impact had caused large dents, scratches and scrapes down the length of my car.

Hawks can get up to 4 pounds, which is pretty heavy considering their bones are hollow.  He was a big boy and I believe he was every bit of that!  I think of that night every time I look in my mirror, and find it isn’t there.

Mourning Doves

Photo courtesy of ODFW Budeau
Photo courtesy of ODFW Budeau

When I first moved to my house, I heard this sweet sound, as if an owl was nearby, but then it seemed incessant.  The sound was all around me.  I began to see grey birds flying around.  It was them that were driving me batty!  My friend Google told me they were Mourning Doves. They have 5 different callings.  One of which sounds like an owl, who whooing.

A neighbor giggled one day and said it sounded like “who cooks for you” over and over again.  I had a hard time not hearing that when they sounded off, which is nearly constantly save for the evening when they are sleeping.  That is until another friend said it sounded like “Coo Coo Ca Choo!”  (yeah, you know the song)  My life!

One afternoon while sitting at my kitchen table, something caught my eye.  There hanging from my neighbors back porch was a cage with a Mourning Dove in it.  I couldn’t believe my eyes, so I grabbed my camera to zoom in closer (crazy lady alert) and sure enough!  Who would do that?  Cage a wild animal, let alone a Mourning Dove, there are plenty to go around.

I called Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife to find out the legality of it.  They told me it depends, was it hand raised or did she capture it from the wild?  Well of course I didn’t know, and since I have an inquiring mind, I had been trying to come up with a nice way to approach her to find out.

In the meantime…

Robins

Photo by Sandy Harris
Photo by Sandy Harris

One afternoon I heard a thump and realized it was a bird hitting my dining room window, which happens to be facing the neighbors yard.  I know birds hit windows all the time.  I figured he was just confused, I giggle it off as I saw him fly away, until it happened again, and again.

It became so regular that he was waking me up at 5:00 a.m., his beak tap tap tapping and his wings flapping and beating my window pane.  So frequent in fact that my cat simply looked the other way, not bothering to race to the window. So there I was, this crazy woman; flinging back my covers, hair sticking out in all directions, standing in my window arms flailing above my head at the thing trying to get it to go away!

I was at my wits end and looked this craziness up on Google one morning while sipping my coffee.  Robins become very territorial during mating season.  When they see their reflection, they think it is another bird and attack it, defending their territory.

Either I could wait out the mating season or cover my window up.  One of the solutions was to place colored tape down the length of the window every two inches.  That would have felt a little like jail to me (clarify, I have never been to the gray bar motel).  My neighbors came up with the newspaper idea. They gave me a few sheets from their recycle bin and blue painters tape.  I taped it to the outside of my window (I couldn’t tape it on the inside, as this would just cause more of a mirror effect).  It still lets the light in.  Problem solved!

I thought I heard a Mallard!

Photo by Sandy Harris
Photo by Sandy Harris

While sitting on my front porch one day, I heard a duck quack and thought it very odd!  A few days passed and I heard it again, this time I was washing my car in my driveway.  I peered over my neighbors fence (yep, the one with the Mourning Dove) and sure enough, there sat a  Mallard duck penned up inside chicken wire, along with two chickens.

Now, my blood begins to boil.  Two wild birds caged in my neighbors yard, this just isn’t right in my opinion!  I don’t want to be “that neighbor” but I don’t know what to do about this, it has to be illegal.

I decided to call the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife.  The gentleman I spoke to immediately said no, it wasn’t legal and gave me the number to the Oregon State Police.  I felt like a little kid tattling on my neighbor.  Again the officer told me it depended if they were hand raised or taken from the wild.  I told him ODFW instructed me to call them and that it was not legal.

After being on hold a few minutes, they put me on the phone with their wildlife person.  I explained the situation to him.  I did the right thing by calling them.  He said unfortunately they get calls like this all the time.  He was at my neighbors door about an hour later.  The officer did call me back for a follow-up and explained they did indeed purchase the fowl from local businesses and that was legal.

Photo courtesy ODFW Budeau
Photo courtesy ODFW Budeau

I expected some kind of retaliation from her in some way, but nothing came thank goodness. I have come to peace with her birds.  Charlie the mallard escaped one day and ended up in my yard.  That was scary because how would he survive if he was hand fed his whole life… He was returned to his pen to live out his life with his chicken friends.

Robins Again

They came back, but now they are attacking my car.  I looked outside and there, perched on my drivers side mirror sat a Robin, waiting for his reflection in my drivers window, he knew the bird was going to come soon enough and he would be ready.  If you will excuse me, i’m headed to my shed for the blue tarp.

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