October 12, 2016: Where do birds go when they die?

~by Susi Pittman

I have always enjoyed my yard being filled with the chirps and songs of the wild birds. I strategically place my feeders carefully, so as to ensure that they have a quick escape route should a hawk fly by and that they received a sheltered eating experience. Their presence about my home gives me a chance to see their families grow in the spring and to welcome the winter visitors in the fall.

When night comes, my feathered friends seek out little niches, bird houses, thickets and tree canopies to roost in to avoid the predators that may have easy access to them. Small birds sleep perched high in trees, typically close to the trunk of the tree. The trunk holds heat from the daytime to provide better shelter, and the birds will be alerted to any vibrations or noises predators make if they climb the tree looking for prey.

Many birds, such as my red-winged blackbirds and blue jays form large roost flocks at night. This provides them safety in numbers as they sleep. Several birds on the edges of the flock may remain alert through the night to guard against predators or other threats as well.

There are times when I will notice that one of my little bird friends is missing and no little body can be found. I am always left to wonder what happened. I realize that most wild birds live only a few years and if they live to a ripe old age, they most times will fall as prey to a predator.

So, do my missing birds die from a predator or do they die of natural causes? And if they died from natural causes WHERE do they go to die?

Birds, like many other creatures, will seek secluded, out-of-the-way places when they’re feeling sick – woodpeckers will climb into a hole in a tree, for example. Sick birds will find a hide-a-way to be less vulnerable. Birds are given the ability to sense when their health is compromised and their instinct to seek a well-concealed spot is paramount in their chance to weather what may be just a short term illness.

If a bird does not survive the illness that it has hidden itself away for, it most times will die in its hiding spot. The little birds body returns to the earth through the natural decaying process putting nutrients into the ground that may support the sprouting of a new plant. The circle of life continues.

Recently, Hurricane Hermine swept through our area and my worries for the wild birds intensified as I was taking down the bird feeders in preparation for the storm. Following Hermine’s passing, I waited to see the birds return to the feeders – and they did, hungrily. It did appear that some of my friends did not make it through the storm. There were two families of Cardinals that had young and I noticed that one of the young was not back at the feeder.

In preparation for a big storm, birds will seek out a sheltered spot from the frontal assault of the winds and drenching rain. Their toes are made to clench a branch with great strength keeping them rooted in place. The birds that did not make it through the storm most likely lost their protection or became dislodged for some reason, thus succumbing to the relentless pounding of the storms elements.

For the bigger part, most all of my wild bird friends are back and the new migrating arrivals are dropping in every day.

God our Creator has given to all His creatures their time and place in this realm. He forgets not one of us. And when the time comes for each of His creatures to pass from this world and return home, He awaits each and all as the Father of all.

Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings? And yet not one of them is forgotten before God.

~Luke 12:6~


Susi Pittman is founder of CatholicStewardsofCreation.com and Owner-President of Twin Oaks Publishing; she is author of Animals in Heaven? Catholics Want to Know!; a member of the St. John’ s Catholic Writers Guild;
a member of the Florida Publishers Association, Independent Book Publishers Association, the National Association of Professional Women, the ASPCA, the National Wildlife Federation, the Humane Society of the United States and the National Audubon society.



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