Avoiding Window Collisions

Window_GrandLakeCO_LAH_6579I’ll be sitting at my computer, enjoying the quiet of living in the forest, when THUD!! I cringe, knowing that another bird has just hit the window. If it’s lucky, the bird is merely stunned and will fly away in a moment. Unfortunately, all too often the impact is fatal.

Window collisions kill millions of birds every year. High rise office buildings account for some of this carnage, but ordinary homes pose the most severe threat. Pete and I live in a passive-solar house, which means that much of our southern wall is glass. Add in my abundance of bird feeders, and the outcome is inevitable. Birds I’ve welcomed into my yard with food, water, and bird-friendly habitat end up as casualties. What can we do?

Keeping birds from hitting our windows isn’t as easy as I once thought. Those raptor-outline decals only work if they’re spaced very close together. The birds don’t see them as predators. It’s the light-blocking film that tells them they can’t fly there. So what options do we have?

Surprisingly, one helpful practice is to keep feeders and bird baths close to the windows.  That way, when a bird takes off and flies into the glass, it won’t have had time to build up much speed. Yes, it will hit the window, but not very hard. However, not every yard is arranged in a way to make this possible.

For example, we have decking right under my kitchen windows. I had a feeder there, but it made such a mess (not only the empty sunflower hulls, but also copious amounts of bird droppings), I ended up moving the feeders across the driveway.

Also, the birds may not hit the glass close to the feeder, but they can still run into other windows. So how do we tell the birds there’s an invisible barrier? We make it visible!

The American Bird Conservancy has published a very practical pamphlet addressing the issue of bird collisions. The first page explains the problem and helps you discern which windows pose the greatest hazard. The next page lists a wide array of products (including sources) and practices that help prevent birds from crashing into our windows.

Birds have enough counts against them without me adding more. Just as I keep our cat indoors and put protective guards around my nest boxes, I feel it’s my responsibility to help the birds avoid window collisions. This pamphlet will help me get started.

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