When the doves fly: two more bird prints

July 12, 2011 • 4:00 am

Reader PeterN sent in yet another bird print.

Attached is bird self-portrait that appeared on my studio window one day in 2007.  It’s not as spectacular as your owl, but still!  I’m guessing it’s a mourning dove.  It, too, apparently survived the impact.

And here’s one—also a dove—sent in by reader Andrew (it’s in his comment below).

A bird flew into our back door a few days ago and left this mark on the window. This is not doctored in any way, other than a green blanket for backdrop. The bird died shortly afterward. It was a dove. Mom: “We’re all mourning.”

It’s only a matter of time before one of these things bears a faint resemblance to Jesus or Mary (they’re already looking like angels), and Ceiling Cat help us all when that happens.

19 thoughts on “When the doves fly: two more bird prints

  1. It’s even MORE spectacular! It’s a DOVE — an image of the holy spirit – jesus mary and joseph sure it’s a miracle!

  2. Ooh I didn’t know we were all sending these in. Here’s mine from last autumn:


  3. I’v had birds hit my windows…but I never got an image on the glass…maybe I need to start believing in something!

  4. A Greenfinch flew into the library yesterday, but I did not get a photo as I was in too much of a hurry to get it out in one piece. It was just like a bee on the glass – even though the window below was open. As soon as we turned off the strip lights though it managed to see the opening. I wonder what spectrum they see, that means glass is so confusing. I could imagine that the owl might have ‘seen’ a rival in its reflection, hence the spread wings as if coming in claws first, but obviously the dove in the lower picture was full pelt into the glass.

    1. I was wondering the same thing, maybe the UV area introduce more ambiguity. UV is readily absorbed instead of reflected, I believe.

      Their viewing angle is different as well.

      But I also remember some thread here about how birds often fly on speculation, focusing on food search et cetera. The heuristic that open air has no hinder is a good one, most times.

      The question then becomes more basically why they don’t perceive (poorly seen or not) reflection as “not air”.

      Maybe they have an overeager “open air” detector much as we have an overeager pattern detector. This Hypothesis™, which is Mine, which I Have, is testable; so now it is yours too. =D

      1. Some amendments:

        – I think birds, at least some species, perceive UV because it was mentioned here recently, IIRC. I can’t find it now; I found this:

        “Most birds are tetrachromatic, possessing ultraviolet (UV) sensitive cone cells in the eye as well as those for red, green and blue,[18] but pigeons have an additional pigment and are therefore pentachromatic.[19]” [Wikipedia]

        And this:

        “Recent studies have confirmed tetra-chromacy in some fish and turtles, so perhaps we should not be surprised about this [tetra-chromacy in birds].” [Bristol University]

        – Glass and UV:

        “Ordinary window glass passes about 90% of the light above 350 nm, but blocks over 90% of the light below 300 nm. [Wikipedia]

        Note that the link above shows a figure with one UV-pigment centered on 370 nm which stretches well into the transition region to the “dark zone” of glass light absorption. At the very least glass should give birds more mixed messages than it gives us.

        If this is correct then quartz, which widely UV-transparent, should present a different visage for birds than glass and be more like how we perceive glass.

        [I would not recommend quartz for windows precisely because they don’t block UV, they would be energetically costly so environmentally unsound, and they would be very expensive.]

        – Better to say that I assume an “open air” detector brain function is in principle testable.

    1. How curious – just like the other owl, face on. I think my brother has an owl expert friend, I will ask him if owls exhibit aggression to reflections…

  5. Maybe someone should smash a cat against a window. Or a shower curtain. Or a toasted piece of bread. Or a piece of cloth.

  6. Some time ago, I worked at an office where there was a spectacularly detailed bird imprint on one of the windows (you could see all the feathers)
    I didn’t realize at the time it was a bird imprint, and assumed it was some kind of artwork, until of course, one day, they cleaned it, and it was too late to take a picture…

  7. There is a grand – if Christian – poem by the Australian poet Les Murray entitled ‘The Emerald Dove’ that can be read on the Australian Poetry Library’s website (just Google ‘Les Murray/ The Emerald Dove’) and you’ll get there; it is about birds hitting windows or, in the case of the Emerald Dove, coming in through an open window and being unable to get out.

    1. “I was the shadow of the waxwing slain
      By the false azure in the windowpane;”

      I think that is the beginning of Nabokov’s poem
      “Pale fire”

  8. Don’t know why that bracket got in the wrong place – some sort of free willfullness perhaps?

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