Comments and Suggestions

Please email your questions or comments to Jim Hines (

Frequently Asked Questions

It is beyond our capabilities to provide a general resource on birds. We answer questions within the scope of our knowledge, and attempt to refer you to better sources if we cannot reasonably answer your question. However, sometimes we will suggest that you do a web search for your question. Please do not be offended by this suggestion, because it often reflects the easiest way to answer your question.

Quick index

Q1: Bird hitting window...
Q2: Birds seen locally, but not on maps...
Q3: Help with injured bird...
Q4: Bird no longer appears locally...
Q5: Help identifying local bird...
Q6: Do you want preserved dead bird?
Q7: Who do I report bird sightings to?
Q8: Sickly-looking House Finches (Conjunctivitis)?
Q9: What do I feed this baby bird?
Q10: How long does it take for a nest of ... to hatch or fledge?
Q11: Where can I find wheelchair accessable birding sites in the Maryland/DC region?
Q12: Do you accept photos?
Q13: Help with bird identification?
Q14: Abundance categories on BBS (Breeding Bird Survey) maps?
Q15: How are species groupings defined?

Question 1

I need information on ways to keep a male cardinal from hitting my windows. This happens several times a day from early morning to afternoon. I believe the bird sees the reflection of trees in the windows. He hits the windows over and over again apparently not minding the pain. Can you refer me to a source that might have suggestions for stopping the behavior. Thank you.


This is a common problem. The bird sees the reflection and thinks it is another bird encroaching on his territory. One solution is to put a silhouette of a hawk in the window. That scares them off. Birding and nature stores sell paper cutouts that you can tape to the window.

Question 2

i just started reviewing your maps of bird sitings. i live in peru ny right up on the canadian and vt. borders. i have seen several species of birds which your maps indicate have no siting near this area , such as white crown sparrows by the dozens at my feeders, redheaded woodpecker for two years at my feeder. egret at the state game reserve across the street from my home.i could go on with numorious other birds which donot show up in your maps for this area. if anyone would br interested in discussing this with me, plesae contact. thanks


Thanks for the comment. It is not unexpected that what you see near you house tends to vary from our maps. Lots of people mention that their local observations differ somewhat from the regional patterns shown on the maps. Our data are based on systematic surveys, so they may miss local occurrences of some species. Also, they are done during a narrow window of time, so other birds may show up in different seasons.

Question 3

Could you help me? Found a male Redbreasted Grosbeak with its wing torn with only about a half of inch holding it on. No way it can fly, is it possible for one to live in captivity? It eats sunflower seeds and drinks water, and hops all over the cage but will never fly again, meaning it will die outside come winter. (Ohio) Your help will be greatly appreciated. I hate to see it die.


Sorry to hear of the injury. I suggest you find a local wildlife rehabilitator and give the bird to them for care. They have the knowledge and permits needed to provide such care. I do not know who your local rehabilitator would be, but you might want to call a local nature center, animal control group, or bird club and ask.

Here is the address of a website that appears to provide information about rehabilitators:
We cannot endorse it, or vouch for its content, but it may be relevant to your search.

Question 4

for the last few years the Evening Grosbeak has disappeared from our place on Vancouver Island BC Canada, before they were plentiful at our location


Thanks for the comment. Trend estimates for the species in your region can be found on our website, at..


Click on the "Trend Estimates" box under survey results, and select the species or region. Of course, it is difficult to use the regional patterns to say what might be happening in any local area. Local habitat changes, or just habits of individual birds, might account for your seeing fewer birds.

Question 5

HI: I have a different bird here after the snow storm, I have a picture and am wondering what it may be...It is the size of a song sparrow but is light brown, with a white belly, white tail and white on 1/2 of the wings....No markings, small bill and comes with the song sparrows, Juncos and others....It does not seem to be an albino..We are in eastern Pa. Can I send you a picture?????


Actually, we try not to do long-distance identifications, as we get so many requests and the person who set up our identification website has long-since left for another job!. However, you might want to look at snow buntings, who look something like that in the winter, or white-crowned sparrows.

Question 6

Hi, Just thought to send a short note to say that while filing away 2004 backlog at work, I found a black & white warbler in one of the boxes. Of course it is quite dead, but is beautifully preserved. I work in Barre Vermont and noting on the BBC that there are so few counted, I thought it might be of interest to you.


Thanks, but we don't use or store specimens such as that. They are nice birds to see, but better to see alive, I think.

Question 7

Who do I report bird sightings to? Is anyone interested that we have a flock of 7 immature white ibis in the field behind our school in Savannah, GA? I don't know if they are rare, or anything, I just have never seen them here before and thought it was cool.


Thanks for the note, and they are a neat species. However, our work is based on surveys, and we don't use these sorts of observations. The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology has a variety of programs that use contributed data, and you might want to look at their website if you are interested in participating as an observer.

Question 8

I live in Baltimore, and have a bird feeder outside my window. There are many species of birds that visit, but recently I was taking pictures of some of them and noticed a rather sickly looking house finch. Her eyes are saggy and bloody looking, and her feathers are not well preened. Should I be concerned that she might be contagious to the other birds? Some of the other birds (brown-headed cowbirds and downy wodpeckers) seem to avoid the feeder when she is there eating. Should I personally be concerned? Any thoughts?


Here is a website with information about the conjunctivitis that sometimes afflicts house finches.

Question 9

I found a baby bird, and need to know how to feed and care for it. What should I do?


I do not know what it should be fed. We do not work with captive birds, and it is important to realize that it is illegal and not in the bird's best interest for you to attempt to take care of it. It should be taken to a qualified wildlife rehabilitator who has the necessary permits and expertise for keeping young birds alive. However, if you need to feed it, you should be able to find more information on the internet by conducting a web search for sites that provide information on foods for birds. We used to provide a link to one such site, but that link no longer works and was removed.

Question 10

Every year there is a family of what I think are house sparrows that take up residence in an exhaust vent on the side of my house. Right now they seem to be feeding young ones. How long will the babies be in the nest and when will they start to fly? I have watched for many years and never seem to see the fledglings leave the nest.


Life history information for the species is available from our website, at:


Click on the species name, then click on the life history information link on the left side of the page. That link will open up a page with information on number of days required for hatching and fledging for the species.

Question 11

I am confined to a wheelchair .... I am wondering if you could inform me as to where there would be some accessible birding sites. I was looking at a map and I see that the Scarlet Tangier is supposed to be in this area. I have never seen one except when in western Maryland approximately 45 years ago. Do you know of any birding sites in this area where I might be able to observe them? I believe that the Scarlet Tanager, bluebird and the goldfinch are among the prettiest birds. Is there any way that I could attract the Scarlet Tangier and the bluebird. I have feeders for the goldfinches.


This time of year, almost any of the nature centers that have forest or marsh habitats are great places to see birds, and I would think that any nature center with wide paths or boardwalks would be wheelchair accessible. This is a nice area for birding, with many organizations that sponsor birding activities and many National Parks and other parklands. I suggest you try to find some organized birdwatching activities, that would give the advantage of an observer who knows the birds by their songs. I find that about 95% of my bird "observations" in forests are by identifying them by sound, so it is useful to go with experienced birders if possible. I hear tanagers most of the times I go birding in forested parks, but I very infrequently actually see them!

A few of my favorite spots are:

Other birding web-sites in Maryland/DC:

This list is incomplete (for example I have not included the Audubon Naturalist Society), but the sites listed here should have links to many of the sites.

Question 12

I was on your site yesterday to verify a species of egret. I found it but the only thing was that the pictures were not the clearest, so i was curious to see if you guys accept photos to put on the site.


Thank you very much for your kind offer of possibly providing bird photos for our Bird ID InfoCenter (/id/framlst/framlst.html). At this time, we do not have anyone on staff who is maintaining the photos for this site and do not have the resources to take advantage of your offer.

Question 13

I have taken a photo of a bird that I have never seen. I have searched the Eastern and Western Audubon books, checked this web-site in North America/Canada and the Tropical area and unable to find such a bird. Description: 9-10" thin billed and large top-knot, such as a fly catcher. Thin red line horizonally from bill, across eye, to back of the head. Med/brown in color but appears to have a red hue about it. Two white wing bars. I am going to attempt more photos of this bird, but wish to know how one can get a "NEW BIRD" catologed?


Sorry, but we can't help with rare bird observations. You should check with local bird watchers and nature organizations for people who are interested in unusual bird observations in southern California.

Question 14

Hello, I saw a map ("BBS map" /id/framlst/i4280id.html ) for the ruby-throated hummingbird, which showed our area (west-central Louisiana) as having 1-2 birds. Does this indicate 1-2 sightings or 1-2 estimated per square mile? I ask because we have at least two males and an unknown number of females who regularly feed at our house throughout the summer. Any information you can provide is appreciated.


Here is a help file that explains the abundance categories for the maps in the infocenter:
Abundance Categories Help

"These maps indicate the number of birds seen on BBS routes, grouped into convenient categories of relative abundance. The maps predict the average number of birds of the species that could be seen in about 2.5 hours of birdwatching along roadsides (by very good birders). They are based on mean counts on BBS routes over the interval 1994 - 2003."

Also, here is the help file for the CBC (Christmas Bird Count) maps:
CBC Help

Question 15

Hello, A recent scientific paper I read cited the species groupings identified by the USGS's bird species groupings found at: I am writing to ask if someone would be able to tell me the process that was used to define these groups? I don't see a citation for methods used to develop the groupings.I appreciate any help you can provide.


These species groupings were initially developed by Sam Droege, then revised by Bruce Peterjohn. I believe that they are published in one of our annual reports in the Journal Bird Populations. Unfortunately, I do not have a copy readily available to check, but I believe it was this reference:

Peterjohn, B. G., and J. R. Sauer. 1993. North American Breeding Bird Survey annual summary 1990 1991.Bird Populations 1:52-67.

Over the past 30 years, there has been a lot of interest in defining groups of birds for summary analyses, so there are many alternative groupings of birds into ad-hoc guilds and the groupings tend to change depending on the specific goals of the analyses. The State of the Birds reports, for example, have different groupings, and groupings tend to evolve over time due to new information or taxonomic changes. As far as your specific question about the process used to develop the groups, I believe that Bruce used the standard texts (Bent, Ehrlich et al., etc) and expert opinion. Bruce is an acknowledged expert on birds and had researched and authored bird books and atlases, so he had extensive references and experience to draw on in making the categorizations.