Owls are known for their ability to fly without making a sound. They possess soft body feathers and flight feathers with fringed edges that reduce sound by dampening turbulence as air moves over them. Staying silent while aloft allows the owls to hear their prey and at the same time prevents their approach from being detected. Sometimes these silent flights end with the startled squeak of a small rodent as the owl makes a successful capture. Unfortunately, they also sometimes end with an audible "whump" as an owl flies headfirst into a pane of glass.
Two such unfortunate owls were brought to PAWS Wildlife Center in late October. The first was a diminutive Northern Saw-whet Owl that struck the front window of a Safeway store only a mile from PAWS. PAWS' Wildlife Admissions Specialist Cindy Kirkendall retrieved the owl from a small tree in the grocery store parking lot shortly after the incident. He was still quite stunned.
Both of these birds were very fortunate in that they did not suffer any lasting injury. They had certainly incurred some head trauma, but they recovered quickly. Both were released on the night of October 30. The Barred Owl was returned to Lake Forest Park and the saw-whet owl was released right here on the PAWS Campus.
Whether they are flying by night or day, windows are a huge problem for birds. During the day, birds see sky, ground or nearby vegetation reflected in the glass and attempt to fly to it. At night, light shining out of a window or reflecting off of it is extremely disorienting to birds. Large numbers of birds representing dozens of different species are injured or killed every year in collisions with windows. If you would like to learn how to help reduce the chances that a bird will strike a window on your property, visit our wildlife common problems page and review the section on birds and windows.