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Help! Drunk birds bother neighbor!

Original post made by anne, Green Acres, on Mar 29, 2011

Our house has a cottoneaster in the back corner of the property, you know, spindly tall tree with clusters of bright orange berries. Right about now, the berries ferment. The birdies love them.

We are having a good neighbor problem and are looking for constructive advice!

The birdies pick the tree clean and apparently fly into the windows of the neighbor at the southwest corner behind us. It's very upsetting especially for the little kids.

We didn't even realize because for some reason they don't fly in our yard at all or (I don't think) to the neighbor directly behind us. I mean, they don't even fly here, much less run into anything. I just looked up there and saw the tree full - the birdies grab berries and fly around to the other side, just like the neighbor complains of!

We would just cut it down except that the tree provides essential shade for the strong, low southwestern sun, especially in the summer, for our living area and for our storage shed.

The neighbor has called the county and all they could recommend are tying CD's to hang in their porch. I was wondering if a gift of a wooden owl from us would be in order? We suggested Klutz has a product that allows kids to make "stained glass" plastic things that stick in the windows, and would be happy to supply them, but they are worried about not being able to remove them from the windows.

We love this neighbor and would like to solve this problem, but don't have an acceptable alternative for this tree which has a year-round important role for our home. ISO good advice!!


Comments (18)

Posted by Judy
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 29, 2011 at 1:08 pm

The birds you are probably seeing are Cedar Waxwings and they are now quite rare. They love berries particularly those of pyracantha bushes, and yes they get drunk and fall over eating berries. They will move on to another bush or tree very quickly when all the berries on your tree are gone.

Don't cut your tree down you are so lucky to still have these rare birds in your yard. Because cedar waxwings are now so rare please treat them with love and respect. Show your neighbors children these rare little birds and encourage them to honor what nature has so generously provided you.

If your neighbor can't tolerate these cedar waxwings visiting them, they should move to the City Cedar Waxwings are not the enemy to be chased away; they should be encouraged to stay!!!

Posted by paresident
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 29, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Can they lower their blinds (during this time period) if they have them? That's what I do. I just had a bird die from smacking into a window a few days ago because I didn't know that this had already started up again. I also hang things in my windows (like the pretty stained glass pictures that you can buy in any shape or size). That usually stops the problem. Good luck with your neighbors and I hope they are understanding (I don't have these bushes on my property but neighbors do and I would never ask them to pull their bushes. I didn't know these birds were rare.)

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Perhaps the Cedar Waxwings are rare because they keep flying into windows and killing themselves?

Judy - I think the point of the post is that the neighbor is concerned for the birds and is trying to make sure they don't fly into the windows anymore. The kids are probably upset by the dead birds, not by them banging on the window. You sound like you know a lot about these birds and the trees but maybe you can give some actual advice to the poster rather than berate her neighbors.

Posted by Alfred E Newman
a resident of Atherton
on Mar 29, 2011 at 2:19 pm

They're just culling the herd.

I say join them at the appropriate hour. Put on a nice CD, hang a couple in the window, and pour one. My choice would be with a G&T and some light jazz in the background..

Posted by Bill
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 29, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Cedar Waxwings were quite common in this area many years ago. They would strip the berry bushes, get drunk and often fall into the street where cars would run over them. At least they are fairly safe on the ground in your neighbors yard - except for cats!!

I, too, recommend your neighbor hang shiny objects in her windows. This may keep the majority of the birds away.

I hope the children are fortunate enough to learn about birds and other parts of nature. To improve their education about nature a teacher in their school or one of our Palo Alto librarians may direct them to appropriate learning sources.

Of course the question does come up. Are the children afraid of the noise when they hit the windows or concern for the dead birds? Each can be handled in a different way.

Posted by JohnD
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 29, 2011 at 6:23 pm

So THAT's why people hang shiny stuff on trees? I had always wondered about that. There's a house on Arastradero near Gunn with shiny strips either on the bushes or trees. I thought I've seen that out in rural areas too - is it a bird deterrent?

Posted by Eichler dweller
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 29, 2011 at 6:29 pm

We often have birds fly into our large windows, no idea if it is anything to do with being drunk. As far as we can tell they are just stunned and lie still for a while, then they regain their strength and fly off to a nearby tree or bush where we assume they recover entirely.

The noise of a bird flying directly into a window is quite alarming, the whole house seems to shake as well as the noise. The first time it happened we were quite scared until we saw the poor bird lying outside and could see the flicker of life in its chest. We watched it for sometime before it started moving enough to fly off. I would like to deter them, but since we have such large and many windows it would need a lot of cds.

Posted by annd
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 29, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Thanks for the info so far -- the neighbors are lovely people whose kids are concerned for the birds and feel terrible when they hit the windows. Plus I think it's stressful for the parents to have these beaked projectiles hitting the windows!

We have the Klutz stick 'ems in our windows, but I don't think that's why the birds don't fly on our side, it must have something to do with reflections -- their windows are under shade on the north side of their home, so look clear, I'm guessing.

So, maybe I should buy her some mirrored plastic objects on suction cups to hang in the windows once a year?? (Where can I get something like this?)

Would love any other comments/ideas. Thanks again.

Posted by Karen
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 29, 2011 at 6:36 pm

"Cedar Waxwings and they are now quite rare"

Yes they are. It is not due to DDT or noise or air is due to CROWS!!! These horrible birds are killing off most of our songbirds. The crows should be eliminated, period. Just shoot them.

Posted by anne
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 29, 2011 at 6:36 pm

To Eichler Dweller:

Maybe you could try the Klutz stained glass stuff I was mentioning. It's a liquid that comes out of a bottle, which you pour onto clear plastic. You can lay the plastic over anything you want to copy, so it's easy to trace very complicated looking things in black. You let it dry, then fill in the spaces with colors like stained glass. When it's all dry, you peel it off and stick it to the window. Not on a window that gets hot, they have a tendency to melt and be hard to remove. But other windows it works great.

oops, missspelled my name there above ... it's anne of green acres....

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2011 at 12:02 am

You can purchase blackbird window-stickers like they use in Europe. Birds stay away. Nobody gets hurt. The stickers are available online.

Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 30, 2011 at 10:00 am

Maybe an intervention from AA would help.

Posted by TripleB
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 30, 2011 at 10:19 am

Our community trims the berries from the bushes. Problem avoided.

Posted by Whoa
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 30, 2011 at 12:18 pm

ANGRY BIRDS!!! Just house some pigs in make shift structures in your back yard and watch the birdies go to work.

Posted by Wendy
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 30, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Yes, the birds see a reflection in the glass of trees, bushes, sky and think they can fly off to what would be a normal landscape. Yes, hang a larger black bird cut out - flying form is best - and it will break the reflection and alert them to the "danger" of a larger predatory bird.

Cedar Wax Wings pass through here every year on their way to much farther north to breed and they stop here to add a little fuel to their flying muscles to carry them onward. They have been doing this for thousands of years, timing their arrival here to fruiting native plants. We have populated the area that was once wild, removed most of the native plants and have planted instead a buffet of many plants that provide them with berries. Taking away their supply of fruit is very detrimental to them because they need the food to continue on. They will be gone in a week or two.

Posted by Henry
a resident of Ventura
on Mar 30, 2011 at 10:50 pm

Target/Walmart/Walgrens/CVS/local stationary stores/card shops all sell decorative window slicker cling film that's non-adhesive. They have themes for holidays (X-mas, st Pat's, birthdays) or circus animals, flowers, astology signs, etc. Something for everyone!

Plastic owls are available at garden center stores or Common Ground.

Posted by BirdLover
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 31, 2011 at 12:18 am

You can keep birds from flying into windows by buying window decals that alert the birds not to hit that space. They are cheap, and they do work! They come in a variety of shapes, types to choose from. Give it a try! for the birds sake. Birders Garden in San Carlos, CA have them, and you can also buy them online, etc. Cheap, and avoids injured or dead birds. It does not bother your eyes when you are looking out of the window as well.

Posted by anne
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 31, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Thank you all so much for your input (constructive as well as humorous!)

Triple B,
I was considering doing that. After all these posts about cedar wax wings, I'm wondering if I should buy the neighbor whatever in-window solutions they want to try. But if that doesn't work, can you please tell me the best way to trim the berries? There are so many, and the tree is tall enough (and behind our shed) it seems an impossible task. I would be grateful for the advice!

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