This Maya Bird Needs Contact Lenses…


Our weekend place at the beach has quite a bit of glass… large sliding glass doors can be opened and the living area feels like you are almost living outdoors. The set up seems to be a major problem for neighborhood birds. When we are there and the doors are open, birds often fly through the living room, but when the doors are closed, clean and reflecting the outdoor sky and scenery, it turns into the birds worst nightmares. A couple of years ago, this cute baby kingfisher slammed into a closed glass door, and after catching its breath, took off, hopefully the wiser. On a recent trip, while I was sitting in the living room reading the papers, this maya bird slammed into the closed doors at full speed, bounced off and landed on the sandstone flooring.


I managed to grab my camera from the chair beside me, open the doors and take several photos of the poor fellow. I didn’t want to pick him/her up as it might make things worse. One of the bird’s wings was still open, its leg appeared fractured or in pain, and its beak was just open. If I only knew how to dial up the bird ambulance, it would have been on its way! I have walked into the same darned doors at least twice, once with a Panama had on so that gave me milliseconds of warning as the tip of my hat touched the glass, but I still took the pane/door off its rollers! Thank goodness it is made of tempered glass, in case there was ever an accidental breakage…


At any rate after about a minute or two, the birds beak finally closed, and it looked like it had regained its composure. I managed several more close-up shots, and as quickly as it slammed into the glass door, it took right off and flew to a branch in a nearby kalachuchi (fragipani) tree. I was relieved it was well enough to fly, but worried it might have sustained some nasty internal injuries.


It was probably so embarrassed that it flew into the glass door to begin with, then mortified it was under such close scrutiny by this giant human taking photos, that it decided to leave me a present, a huge DUMP of the blackest POOP right on the creamy sandstone it had been sitting on. Oh yeah, thanks buddy. Volume wise, it would be like me leaving a a good half gallon of the stuff for someone else to clean up. :) So Isa G, our resident animal expert, what is the appropriate response when a bird slams into a glass window or door? Just leave it be and hope it recovers and flies off? Do they actually xray birds this size and give them aircasts? Should you keep it in captivity and feed it until it feels well enough to fly the unfriendly skies again? Do I need to give community lectures for neighborhood birds to recognize the large panes of glass that might be harmful to their health? Maybe what birds lack is the “radar” that the bats seem to have. Bats can fly right over our heads in the open dining room, swoop to devour a succulent flying bug over the yard and angle themselves sharply away from the glass doors around the living room without ever smacking into the doors…

P.S. this is the first of 3-4 bug and animal posts coming up in the next two weeks. Not sure why the summer has brought so many of these photo opportunities… but they depart from the food theme of the blog for sure.


35 Responses

  1. MM, those poor birds cannot tell that there is glass instead of open space. It is their instinct to fly through what appears to be open space. What you can do to minimize injuries to these poor creatures is to either keep your glass doors open during the day to allow the birds to zip through. Or to install cloth blinds or shades on the upper half of your doors. It may partially obstruct your view but it will keep the birds from breaking their necks. After all the birds were there before you built your house. Technically they have jurisdiction over the open airspace. If you don’t want them to invade yours, let them know where the boundaries are.

  2. i have a floor to ceiling windows in 2 sides of my house and these kinds of things happen a lot. a neighbor who is an elder british gentleman suggested that i stick one of those bird stickers (size of a small bird) in the glass window to prevent other birds from slamming into the windows. apparently, the presence of another “bird” in an area makes other bird more alert thus they could then perceive the glass windows… in my case, it worked perfectly!

  3. Yeah, same here in our house— a lot of birds are victimize by our mirrored windows but I observed that 90% are able to recover after a short dazed period except for the few times I saw a dead bird on the ground…..the most tragic was a dead blue bird impaled by the sharp leaves of our date palm….probably when it hit the windows it bounced off.Poor bird! :(

    Jack, that’s a great idea.Now I have to look for that kind of sticker at the stationary shop.

  4. I hope I won’t give you any ideas, but Bourdain had sparrows in Laos, while Zimmern had those barbecued in Cambodia. Not sure if a scarecrow would work too.

  5. I have to let you in on a secret…I have this irrational fear of birds – any kind of birds, but esp. pigeons and seagulls. They’re cute, but I can never pick the up or hold them.

  6. yes, silvergirl, that is a Maya bird, the original national bird before it was changed to Phil eagle and the Maya-maya is a delicious fish for escabeche.. MM, how about changing the clear glass to a smoked glass?

  7. hi MM! my friend, who works as a bird trainer in Canada posted about birds hitting windows a few weeks back and what to do to keep this from happening. a simple as drawing grid lines on your window with a highlighter can prevent bird hits. and thus saving the bird and keeping your floors clean from their “gifts”

    here is a link about how to prevent bird hits:

  8. Hehehehehe, it must have hurted so bad :( that the poor bird gave a involuntary gift for you to clean up :) If only it could cry!

  9. I know how the Maya feels, this happened to me about 10 years ago at the Home Depot in Ortigas. I was shopping for home improvement stuff when bang-smack I ran into a glass wall! I had hit my forehead with such force that I fell on my bum and was bleeding on a cut between my eyes. A saleslady saw me and gave me a tissue! I had to drive home bleeding. So more power to you little bird!

  10. Bird strikes on windows kill millions, yup millions of birds every year! All they see is the reflected expanse in the glass and WHAM! A bat on the other hand actually uses echolocation and sends out sounds we can’t hear and the speed that it bounces back to the bat lets him know where things are and thus avoid them.
    As my friend ‘Anne’ up there mentioned with the link, there are studies that gridlines with highlighter (only yellow or orange) are a way to prevent bird strikes – the highlighter is barely visible and easy to see past and ignore. It does however need to be reapplied as the UV fades it pretty quickly. Another way would be to have blinds installed and keep them open so that it looks like there are lines breaking up the expanse of your windows. Stickers don’t work very well because as long as there is negative space between the stickers (or gridlines for that matter) the birds will still try to fly through it.
    As for what to do when the inevitable happens, majority of the time, the bird is simply stunned and just needs a moment to recover. Simply watch the bird, give it some space and watch it fly off when it is ready.
    If it is in direct sunlight or you are afraid that something (like your cat) will eat it, you can pick it up gently and put it in a shoe box with a hole in the side so that it can rest up and fly away at its leisure.
    As with any head trauma, the last thing it needs is a lot of handling and movement, and neither does it really need food and water at that time.
    There are places that fix injured animals (in North America at least) but a tiny songbird is pretty unfixable, can you imagine pinning a fracture on a Maya?
    As for its big giant poop souvenir – classic stress relief poop – similar to your “after a long flight – now I feel so much better” cork poop!

  11. @Jen Laceda – hey classmate, you can come visit me sometime and see my hawks that fly right above your head … so close that the wind their wings create will part your hair! Maybe we can work on your irrational fear of birds …. by introducing you to some awesome raptors!

  12. We did some birdwatching back in college, and as I was reading your post, I somewhat remember being told by a biology instructor that this not actually the “true” maya, as in the former national bird of the Philippines. So I googled it, and true enough, this is the “false” maya, Passer montanus, otherwise known as Eurasian tree sparrow. The “true” maya is Lonchura atricapilla, also known as “maya pula” or chesnut/black-headed munia. See a picture of it here: Black-headed Munia.

  13. Your maya had an episode of bowel incontinence secondary to a seizure secondary to a concussion secondary to blunt head trauma. So you’ll have to forgive him for “pooping his pants”, so to speak :)

  14. A lot of pet birds are appearing everywhere here being let loose by owners who couldn’t find somebody to take care of them now that the summer vacation is drawing near and people are going on a trip abroad! Poor birds!

  15. hi mm. for me, this post does not depart from the food theme of the blog. i’ve tasted maya maya before, cooked adobo style by one of our neighbors in marikina. i did not enjoy it and i’m not sure also if killing/cooking/eating one is something criminal. :D i won’t eat one again, promise :)

  16. Yep… I too did a double take when I saw the title for this blog entry…was I the one in need of contact lenses? :) … I thought – isn’t maya-maya a fish? Maya or Pipit (is the other popular name) is the bird…. reminds me of a friend who said to some foreigners after asking what maya-maya is… she said it’s our national bird… LOL!!!

    Poor birdie (photogenic siya ha!)… maybe you should put something colorful on the glass doors like some decals or stickers or something … at least to prevent the humans from banging on it. :)

  17. usually, it’s pigeons and bigger birds that go bump into our glass windows—some unfortunately don’t make it but others fly off leaving some feathers on the ground…not poop. It must have been traumatic for the poor thing. My husband would usually say “why do you put human attributes to animals……too much Disney movies!”

    But neat pictures of a little cute bird!

  18. Hi Roland. Yes, the yellow edges on the beak do indicate that it is still a youngster. It appears to be full size already though. It just takes some time for all the yellow to go dark and to harden up fully.

  19. MM, we have glass windows here at work and they put bird silhouette black decals on it so the birds won’t fly into them. It doesn’t have to be neon or bright colors. So long as you put the decals, I guess this will make the bird aware that it is glass and not open space.

    This trick is actually pretty cool since I sometimes see some birds hovering by the window… as if looking in the mirror. Good luck! And nice pictures, BTW.

  20. the glassdoor incident also happened to my cat..she saw a bird outside, went into a crouching position and pounced on to the glass door..kittycat must have been embarrased…

  21. Hi everyone, thanks for correcting the name of this bird, I always seem to confuse maya with maya-maya, plus the post yesterday had puto maya… :)

  22. It was a maya before it hit the glass door. It became a maya-maya when it hit the glass door. if I banged my head on a glass door I will be seeing double, thinking double and maybe take a mighty double dump too. Glad that bird got back to its senses :)

  23. I feel for the bird–I’ve walked into our freshly-washed sliding glass doors a couple of times. My nose has taken a beating.

    Sadly, this happens to us, too. Birds of all kinds–hummingbirds, band-tailed pigeons, mourning doves, jays, woodpeckers and other Northern CA varieties–like to hang out with us because we feed them year-round. But, the back side of our home is all glass so inevitably one of them will be fooled it. Still trying to figure out a solution…

    Glad your bird was okay.

  24. Hi Jean – the simplest solution is to not feed them … wild animals can find food and shelter for themselves and really do not need our help. Where I work, we get calls all the time from people that say, how do I stop the ____ (deer, squirrel, birds) from coming into our yard, and then we find out that they feed them – so of course they stick around. Bottom line, don’t feed wild animals.

  25. I had a bird incident a couple of weeks too. I found the tiniest bird on the floor
    at my son’s school. It was right outside the boy’s toilet. It looked liked it should
    have still been in the nest. I just couldn’t figure out how this tiny bird made it’s way
    to the second floor. I gave it to the ES office.

  26. I bet a few tasteful decals from a home improvement store would provide enough perceptive warning to both wayward birds and humans.

  27. MM, that poop might have been the result of an involuntary movement. A few months back, we were witness to a similar situation. The bird was bigger and when it bumped into the glass, it threw out its stomach contents, broke its neck and fell dead on the floor. I, too, wondered if decals would work with birds.

  28. Poor bird. reminds me of that scene in the movie “The Core” when their flight patterns were augmented by pole shifting. But BP oil spill is worse for these creatures.

  29. I’m very hurt that someone would see a problem with apart of their home killing or injuring animals and not taking immediate action to change the problem. I do thank you for providing me with the name of the birds I enjoy every morning. “Maya” I hope you have made the necessary changing to end the harm your home is causing.



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