Toree’s Tahoe Stories: a wonderful warbler tale – locals save bird’s life |

Toree’s Tahoe Stories: a wonderful warbler tale – locals save bird’s life

A Wilson’s warbler, having a visit inside the home of Franny Bryan.
Courtesy Franny Bryan |

LAKE TAHOE — A small bird has a new lease on life, thanks to the intervention of several caring people.

Carol and Frank, and Frank’s sister, Pat, were getting ready to go out late one afternoon last week, when they heard a thud.

Knowing what that meant, Carol sent Frank and Pat out to investigate. There lay a small yellow bird, on its side, having hit the window and landed thus on the porch.

There were no signs of life but just in case, they decided to put it in a box to give it time to recover in a safe place.

The next time they looked at it, it was sitting up, so they brought it to Pet Network, an organization that rescues dogs.

While there, the little bird was examined by the resident vet, Dr. Kim Barnes, and proclaimed to be free of broken bones and serious injury.

A person volunteering there for the day, Franny Bryan, offered to bring it to the appropriate wildlife-rescue people — the BEAR League, which, as well as attending to bears, also aids in the rescue of any creature in need — as soon as she was able.

She brought the box home, made some calls to alert the rescuers she was on the way, and couldn’t resist a peek into the box to see how the bird was doing. And out he flew.

Franny managed to shut it into a bedroom and pondered what to do next. She called me, wondering how to catch it as darkness was falling.

I suggested a large fish net, which she did not have, so she waited and watched him.

He was perched on top of the drapery rod, but as the room darkened, she turned on a lamp, and the bird flew to it and alit on the rim of the lampshade. Franny decided it was time to get some pictures.

A series of pictures showed his bright yellow body and the black spot on his head, so together, along with Ann Bryant of the BEAR League, we determined it to be a Wilson’s warbler.

By this time, the little bird — at Franny’s estimate, no more than 4 inches long — appeared to be going to sleep.

Thinking that it might be enjoying the warmth from the lamp, she decided to leave the light on and Franny exited the room, leaving a saucer of water and some seed on the bed.

In the morning the bird was awake, lively and chirping but before successfully capturing it back into the box, she took some more pictures and was able to get the picture seen along with this article.

Carol and Frank came to Franny’s house to pick him up to release him back where they found him near their house, in the Red Cedar area.

By the time they got him home, he had decided to take another nap and had tucked his head under his wing. It took some time, but he eventually realized he was home and he flew off — a happy ending for this little bird.

The Wilson’s warbler is a small songbird with a yellow chest, olive back, darker grayish wings and tail. Males have the black cap on their heads, like the one who spent the night at Franny’s house.

This bird winters in Mexico, as many birds do, then makes his way as far north as Alaska and high up into Canada for the breeding season.

Sadly, birds do fly into windows, often breaking their necks. One such incident at my house has stayed with me, and I shall never forget it.

I found a young red-shafted flicker dead on my deck. I buried him in my garden but what has haunted me was hearing his parents calling for him behind my house for at least two weeks.

I had read that decals on the windows would prevent birds from hitting the window so I thought it was worth a try.

I got some large, tasteful decals — they are designed to look like an etching in the glass — and put them on. I have not had a bird hit the window since, so I think it is working.

My friend, Franny, has many interesting wildlife stories to tell, partly because she is outside whenever she is able, but mainly because she is always on the lookout for an unusual shape or color, a different sound, and movement in the trees or on the ground.

And she’s always ready to whip out her camera to capture her find forever on film.

Toree Warfield is an avid nature lover, and writes this column to teach and stimulate interest in the marvels that surround us. See the new website: to read columns and to find links to bird song recordings, additional photos and other content.

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