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Make Your Windows Safer for Birds

More birds are killed from striking windows than any other single direct cause of death each year. Windows kill at least 100 million and as many as one billion birds in the United States annually, and the problem is growing as window sizes increase and houses grow larger. There are several ways we can make our own windows safer for birds. Things that can help birds avoid collisions or minimize the risk of being hurt include (listed roughly from most to least effective):


This window at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, overlooking many bird feeders, has outside screening affixed with nails or staples to the structure.

Laura Erickson/CLO

    • Cover the glass on the outside with window screening at least 2-3 inches from the glass, taut enough to bounce birds off before they can hit the glass. The Bird Screen Company makes what looks like a wonderful product.

    • Cover the glass with a one-way transparent film that permits people on the inside to see out, but makes the window appear opaque on the outside. You can find information about the best available products on the Fatal Light Awareness Program website. The best product currently available, called “CollidEscape,” is marketed by Large Format Digital. When you buy this product, part of the cost goes to support FLAP. Make sure these kinds of products are mounted on the OUTSIDE of the glass.

    • Place vertical exterior tape strips on the glass, set not more than 10 cm apart, or mark the glass with permanent paint in the same way.

    • Install external shutters which are kept closed when you’re not in the room or taking advantage of the light or view.

    • Install external sun shades or awnings on windows.

    • On new construction or when putting in new windows, angle the glass downward, so it doesn’t reflect sky and trees.

    • Use interior vertical blinds with the slats half open

    •Soap the window on the outside.


    Setting bird feeders directly on window glass actually minimizes the likelihood of bird strikes.

    Laura Erickson/CLO

    • Put decals, sun catchers, mylar strips, or other objects on the window—better on the outer surface.

If none of these methods work, David Sedaris found a solution that worked for him.

Important: If you live or work in a tall building, turn off unneeded lights and keep your shades drawn at night, especially during migration.


For more information:

 

For permission to reprint all or part of this article, please contact Laura Erickson, editor, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 159 Sapsucker Woods Rd., Ithaca, NY, 14850. Phone: (607) 254-1114. email: lle24@cornell.edu

 
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