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Head-banging bird an amusing sign of spring


This news story was published on March 31, 2011.
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We came to call him Bumpy ñ a robin that kept flying into the deck door off of our kitchen. Story by Joe Buttweiler.|We came to call him Bumpy ñ a robin that kept flying into the deck door off of our kitchen.

It was hilarious at first. It would repeatedly fly from the ledge surrounding the deck and zoom straight into the glass door, then fly over to a planter a few feet away, then back to the ledge and then back into the door.

Thump. Flutter. Thump. Flutter. Thump … At a rate of about 360 bumps per hour, given the 15 times counted in a five-minute span on Monday afternoon.

He’s got to be getting sore. He’ll stop soon, we thought.

But no. The rate slowed down, but the dive-bombing continued.

What’s with this goofy bird, we wondered? Was he looking through the window to the light coming from the front entryway, thinking it could fly through?

Did he see the goldfish in a bowl just inside the deck door? Or the orange container of fish food, thinking it was another robin?

Was it an Angry Bird sent here from cyberspace because some kid was playing too much? Hint-hint.

Maybe I’d unknowingly cut off this colorful robin’s favorite branch of the evergreen tree when I was trimming it on Sunday and the bird was trying to get back at me.

Or maybe it didn’t like the way the deer had defoliated the arborvitaes over the winter, removing other shelter options.

We weren’t sure if our big red-breasted nemesis was a male or a female, but eventually decided it must be a female looking for a place to nest and lay eggs.
We pulled the screen over the section that Bumpy was flying into, thinking that would stop her. She stopped flying into it, but then started flying at the adjacent pane.

We put up decals of little race cars, thinking she would see them and realize this was no fly-through zone.

Then she started standing on the deck and looking into the kitchen, making a mess on the deck floor as she had on the ledge.

Maybe she’s chilly and just wanted to feel the warmth coming out of the house? Maybe she just wanted to be by us?

We pulled the blinds. It was still there. Moved the screen again. Still there. Put up more decals. Still there. For four days it has been there. You’d think it would eventually give up and go away.

It was the first thing I saw when coming down for breakfast Thursday morning, flying at the deck door again. Smile. Another day of head-banging. When will this little thing stop?

A while later I got a call back that explained the mystery. It was Todd Von Ehwegen, naturalist at Lime Creek Nature Center.

“It’s a male robin seeing its reflection,” he said. “He’s pumped up for breeding and thinks it sees another male robin so is trying to fight it off. They’re territorial.”
Aha!

Von Ehwegen said he gets a call or two almost every spring about such behavior. “They seem to get fixated because they can’t understand why the other bird won’t leave so they keep on doing it.”

“It could be there for a good chunk of the spring,” he said.

Oh great.

He suggested putting something up on the deck door to decrease the reflectivity.

Hmmm. We’ve already tried decals, pulling the blinds, moving the screen and dimming the lights inside. I’m not going to get out the paint.

It seems like every spring or summer we have some sort of run-in with one or more of nature’s finest . Last year it was a bunny in the window well and raccoons on the deck eating bird food.

One year it was ducks nesting in the yard. We’ve had issues with frogs getting into the house, rabbits nesting in the fenced-in garden. The aforementioned deer chewing up the arborvitaes. They used to think the garden was their dining room until we put up a 6-foot-high deer fence around it.

So …
Maybe we’ll just have to get used to Bumpy. But wait! I have an idea. I’ll put up a tiny mirror on the deck ledge and let him figure it out for himself.

Or would that make me the bird-brained!?

Hope you’re having a wonderful spring.

Check out a video…



MC Earth Day April 16
Mason City’s Earth Day observance will be Saturday, April 16, a week earlier than usual because Easter is the next weekend.
To join a team to clean up litter in the city contact Mary Zishka, Mason City volunteer coordinator, at 421-3372.
Teams will pick up litter throughout the city from 9 to 11 a.m. There will be a rally/picnic at Prairie Playground from 10 a.m. until noon with food, prizes and exhibits.|

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