DEAR JOAN: A bird recently crashed into our kitchen window, and sadly did not survive.

The following day as the morning sun shone into the window, we saw the most amazing thing. There is an almost perfect image of the bird's body imprinted on our window.

As for the type of bird, it was about 8 inches long and sort of a blue-gray and white color. Maybe a pigeon?

Sue Carlson

Walnut Creek

DEAR SUE: That is an amazing photo. By your description, I'd say it was a mourning dove, but it could have been a pigeon. I'm guessing something -- a cat, perhaps, or a hawk -- frightened it and it flew away suddenly and unwisely.

The outline of a bird is imprinted on a window.
The outline of a bird is imprinted on a window. (Courtesy of Sue Carlson)

DEAR JOAN: I feel compelled to share this photo with as many people as possible. I'm hoping someone like yourself will use it in a story to educate people about bycatch. I took this photo just last weekend at Fort Mason in San Francisco. It is of a gull that has swallowed a fishing hook and line.

On another occasion, I took a photo quite by accident of a gull with a different injury. This gull was standing with one foot on a fence at Santa Cruz wharf and there was a sign right below his dangling leg warning people to not discard their fishing lines in the water. Clearly, my photo provides evidence that there needs to be more education. To be honest, I just learned the meaning of bycatch only because of the gut-wrenching photos I took while visiting the seaside. I could not help the poor gull in my photo, who will surely die, but we can help to give voice to the plight of marine wildlife.

Jo-Lynn Otto

Bay Area

DEAR JO-LYNN: Thanks for the picture and the poignant reminder of the dangers wildlife face from humans.

Bycatch is a word used in the fishing industry mainly to refer to fish that are caught but are not the targeted fish. In most cases, it's a fish of a different species, a fish that is too small or one that is too young to legally be taken. The definition has been expanded to include other creatures that are caught or affected by a fishing operation -- sea turtles, whales, dolphins, albatross and others.

Gull with hook and line injury.
Gull with hook and line injury. (Courtesy of Jo-Lynn Otto)

Many of those creatures are caught in netting operations, and organizations including the World Wildlife Federation and Greenpeace are working to get fisheries to use more sea life-friendly nets and hooks.

Another part of the problem is recreational fishing. The photos of the birds that you sent show problems related to amateur anglers.

Birds and other creatures become entangled in fishing lines or injured from swallowing hooks. While it's important to keep the oceans safe, we also need to be careful when fishing off shore or in the Delta.

I know that it's easy to lose a line and hook while fishing, but the careless disposal of old rigs is something that can be avoided.

Gull with fishing line around its leg.
Gull with fishing line around its leg. (Courtesy of Jo-Lynn Otto)

Always clean up after yourself and never toss tackle into the water or discard in open trash bins. Gulls and other birds scavenge in the bins and are too easily ensnared.

Holiday reminder

We're entering the season where we have food and holiday plants in abundance around our homes. Be sure to keep them out of the reach of our pets.

Contact Joan Morris at jmorris@bayareanewsgroup.com.