"Why do you have dead birds in your freezer?", asked my son's friend after he had reached into a popsicle box and pulled out a dead bird in a Ziploc bag rather than the icy treat he was after. I don't recall my response, other than I spared him a lengthy explanation. Neither he nor my son expressed disgust about the 125 or more dead birds in the freezer in late fall 2009. They were just after icees, popsicles, fudge bars, and other cool treats. Most of the birds were stored in plastic bags. Some were loose and some were in the popsicle box.
All of those birds were donated to the Indiana State Museum or other entities by year-end as required. Now, a new year has begun and I have my first dead bird of 2010 in the freezer. It's an American Woodcock. It's quite beautiful and will make a good taxidermy mount for a local nature center. It, like the other birds that make their way to my freezer, is from the Lights Out Indy program. In 2009, volunteers with Lights Out Indy located a total of 526 dead and injured birds in Indianapolis, most downtown. The majority of the birds were dead and were salvaged so they could be used for mounts and study skins. Lights Out Indy will be out monitoring during the spring migration, salvaging dead birds that are found. Hopefully, the bird mortality will be reduced as participation in Lights Out Indy by building managers increases.
The American Woodcock in my freezer was killed at approximately 11am on March 22, 2010 after it flew into a window. No one saw the bird hit the glass but they heard it. They went outside to check on the bird. It was alive but quickly succumbed to the massive head trauma it sustained. It's a common story for those of us on the sidewalks monitoring for birding strikes. It's not pleasant but it is vital to the Lights Out Indy effort. The more we understand, the more we can do to mitigate the problem of bird strikes. We could use additional volunteers. If you are willing to help with monitoring, salvaging dead birds, or transporting injured birds to a rehabber, please drop me a line at dongorney AT yahoo.com. More information about Lights Out Indy is at www.lightsoutindy.org. Also, there will be a Lights Out Indy presentation at Holliday Park Nature Center, 6363 Spring Mill Road, Indianapolis, on Tuesday, April 13 at 7:30pm.