You’re right to want to prevent the sad occurrence of birds flying into windows. That sudden “thump” you hear when a bird mistakenly flies into the glass is not just a sad situation for that one bird. In fact, that startling “bird hitting window” sound is heard in homes and buildings everywhere, and these collisions are taking a terrible toll on birds. Daniel Klem, a researcher who has been studying the problem of birds hitting windows for decades, estimates 1-10 birds for every building in the U.S. die each year from such collisions. As you might imagine, that adds up to a huge number of bird deaths per year—from 100 million to 1 billion. Birds of over 220 different species are known to have been victims, including some that are already at risk. Please read on—you’ll learn about many options for making sure your home’s windows are less likely to be part of this problem.
Look at it from a bird’s perspective…
For birds, a transparent window looks like a clear path to fly through, and a reflective window simply looks like the sky and trees it reflects. Their eyes simply do not “read” glass as an obstacle the way our eyes do. What to do? You can alter the transparency or reflectiveness of your windows. You can also make adjustments to things inside and outside your home. And, you can make design changes to existing windows or opt for bird-friendly window designs when building a new home.
Adjusting things outside…
Not all of these solutions will be appropriate for every window, but among them, you will likely find options that will work for the variety of circumstances that you have:
- Move birdfeeders and birdbaths either closer to your house or farther away. If they are closer than 3 feet to your house, birds won’t be flying as fast, and are less likely to get seriously hurt if they do hit the window. If they are more than 30 feet from your home, birds will have a clearer sense of your windows being a part of your home and will avoid them.
- Apply CollidEscape® film to the outside of your windows—you’ll be able to see from the inside out, but birds will see the window as opaque from the outside.
- Attach window screening or light netting a few inches from the windows. This layer will soften the impact if a bird accidentally flies into the window.
- Add outdoor shades or awnings to minimize reflections.
- Apply decals to the outside of the windows, leaving spaces between them no larger than 4” wide by 2” high.
- Apply soap or tempera paint (which can be washed off with a sponge, but won’t come off in the rain) to create stenciled patterns on windows.
- Hang wind chimes in front of windows.
- Attach tape strips to the outside of windows. Place them four inches apart if vertical and white, or one inch apart if horizontal and black.
- Basement, shed, or other outbuilding windows can be whitewashed with a mixture of pickling lime and water.
Adjusting things inside…
- If you don’t need light in certain rooms, keep the shades or curtains closed.
- Keep vertical blinds turned halfway, or close them if you don’t need the light.
- At night, close blinds or window shades if you have lights on in a room.
- Move indoor plants and trees back from windows, so birds won’t perceive them as an extension of the outdoor habitat.
Choosing bird-friendly window designs…
Whether you’re planning to replace windows in your current home or planning to build a new home, there are several window design approaches that are beautiful and functional for you, while also safe for birds.
- Windows can be installed at a 20-degree angle, so they do not create the reflections of sky and trees that confuse birds.
- Glass can be made to reflect UV light. Ornilux® is an example of this type of glass.
- Glass can be fritted, meaning opaque glass dots are fused to its surface, making it visible to birds, while not interfering with your ability to see out.
- Glass can be etched or sand blasted with a pattern that leaves no spaces larger than 4” wide by 2” high.
Helping a bird who has hit a window…
When you hear that sudden “thump” against your window and know you have a bird hitting window situation, check on the bird as soon as possible. The bird’s injuries from the impact may clearly have been fatal. But sometimes, the bird may simply be stunned from the impact. If there is no obvious injury but the bird is motionless, you want to protect her from potential predators until she recovers.
- Find a small box or bag and make some air holes in it.
- Get a soft, smooth cloth (not terrycloth) and gently pick the bird up and place her into the box or bag.
- Put the box or bag somewhere quiet, warm, and dark while you wait for the bird to recover. Carefully check on the bird every 30 minutes, without touching her.
- If the bird recovers, bring the box or bag outside and open it so she can fly free.
- If the bird doesn’t recover within 2 hours (or recovers but seems unable to fly), bring her to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for examination and care.