Window collisions are more common among birds than some may realize

August 19, 2021

A northern parula and a chimney swift were among the fifty-one animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week. Other admissions include two big brown bats, an eastern screech owl, a white ibis, a red-shouldered hawk and a Florida box turtle.

Northern Parula Strikes a Window

The northern parula was admitted after being injured when it struck a window. A resident on Marco Island found the bird on the ground unable to fly. The northern parula was alert and hopping around the transport box when admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital, yet it was apparent the bird’s overall mentation was abnormal. The warbler received arnica tincture to reduce inflammation and was placed on oxygen in a darkened animal intensive care unit to rest. Hospital staff test flew the parula after two days of rest and supportive care resulting in a maintain of height, but had low stamina. After the parula spent an additional week recovering and regaining strength in an indoor flight enclosure, the tiny wood warbler was cleared for release!

Northern parulas are one species of Neotropical migrant that will arrive in our area during their fall migration. Colliding with windows is a common cause of injury and mortality for migrating warblers. Collisions can occur at night and during the day. At night, lights on high-rise office buildings and condos draw migratory birds in close to buildings where they can become disoriented and exhausted which then causes them to collide with buildings. If you work or live in a high-rise, close the shades, curtains and turn the lights off at night.

Collisions occur during the day because birds can’t perceive clear or reflective glass. Windows reflect the sky and trees and they perceive the reflection as an open flyway and collide with the glass. To prevent window strikes, windows must be altered to make birds aware of expanses of glass. There are many proven techniques that will prevent birds from colliding with windows. For information, visit

If you find a bird injured from a window strike, place it in a dark, ventilated box and bring it to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital for immediate assistance.

Location: 1495 Smith Preserve Way

Members of the public often mistaken baby birds as warblers because warblers are small in size. One noticeable difference between warblers and baby birds is that warblers are fully feathered. Most baby birds have bare spots where feathers still need to grow and baby birds might also have visible downy feathers. Also, most birds are no longer breeding and raising their young in late summer and fall when warbler migration would occur.

The woman who rescued this parula did indeed think she found a baby bird and attempted to feed it egg and water. Hospital staff never recommend the public to attempt to feed any injured or orphaned animal because offering water to an debilitated animal can cause further health complications, some of which prove more deadly than the initial injury.

Rehab Success for Chimney Swifts

The chimney swift was the fifth one transferred to our facility from the Peace River Wildlife Center. Three transfers from Peace River have occurred so far this season. Von Arx Wildlife Hospital staff have established protocols for successfully raising chimney swifts resulting in high release rates. Due to our success, many centers contact us for assistance when chimney swifts are admitted to their facilities.

Chimney swifts construct a half-teacup shaped nest and use their saliva to bond the twigs to the inside of the chimney. Often times, the bond holding the nest to the chimney weakens during heavy rains. This swift fell to the bottom of a chimney earlier in the day. The swift was vocal, had a slight head tilt to the right, its left wing was drooping and it had a noticeable increased respiratory effort. The baby swift was young and not yet fully feathered. The most concerning issue was that the rescuer had offered the swift water.

Von Arx Wildlife Hospital staff provided electrolytes and pain medication and placed the swift on oxygen in a warmed animal intensive care unit to rest. Staff monitored the swift closely, but the trauma from the fall proved fatal and sadly, the nestling swift did not survive the night.

There is a strong network amongst wildlife rehabilitators in our area. Wildlife rehabilitators do what they can to help other rehabilitators, especially if one has expertise with a specific species. There is a shared common goal to do whatever is best for an animal in need. While this swift did not survive, the other swifts previously transferred to our facility have done well. Two swifts have been released and two continue to grow and thrive at our facility.

If you find an injured, sick or orphaned animal contact the nearest wildlife rehabilitator who can provide information on the appropriate course of action to get the animal the care it needs.

Recent Releases

The potential threat from Tropical Storm Fred put many releases on hold last week until rains and the chance for flooding subside. Two eastern cottontails, a Florida softshell turtle, two royal terns, a gopher tortoise and four mottled ducks were released this past week.

Opportunities to Help

Please visit our website at and learn about opportunities to get involved. If you are unable to give of your time as a volunteer, become a member or donate. No matter how you choose to become involved, be assured your support allows the Conservancy to continue to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future.

Joanna Fitzgerald is director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Call 239-262-2273 or see