Over the last three days, I have probably had over a dozen birds try to fly through my sunroom, only to be stopped by the 72"X52" sliding windows; three of the birds have died. What can I do so that the birds realize there is a window there, therefore, preventing them from flying into them?
There are two reasons birds fly into Windows, either they can't see the glass or they see a reflection in the glass. The only real solution, is to make the window more visible or less reflective. Unfortunately, making the window more visible to birds also makes it more visible to humans. So the solution may not be exactly... um... fashionable. You'll have to put decals, tape, paint, marker, or some other type of markings on the windows. You could also try hanging wind chimes, or other decorative items inside/outside the window. Some sources recommend decals in the shape of birds of prey, stating that the birds will be afraid to fly towards the the "prey bird".
Another solution that seems to be successful, is to hang fine mesh over the windows. The theory here is that the mesh will reduce the reflection on the windows, so birds will be less likely to fly into the window thinking they are flying into whatever is reflected in the window.
The good news is, you may only need to do this during migratory seasons. So you could pick up a window paint marker (~$5.00), and draw lines, squiggles, or patterns on the windows during migratory seasons.
You could try making up some detachable screens for the exterior of the windows, and put them up during the migration season. This might be a less noticeable solution, while also being temporary.
We bought some nearly transparent window stickers at a bird store that are supposed to help birds "see" the window. Also, if there are windows on the opposite side of the house that can be covered so the birds don't see daylight through the house, that may help.
Edit: It's hard to be 100% sure how effective they are, but I think they work. We still get a few strikes, but they don't seem to be as common. We have 8 36x80 windows, and only have 2 or 3 stickers on each (the ones we have are the size and shape of oak leaves). You can see them from the inside, but they are not too distracting, IMO.
After habitat loss, the greatest threat to wild birds may be glass windows. NYC Audubon started Project Safe Flight in 1997 to address the issue in New York City. Daniel Klem, an ornithologist at Muhlenberg College, estimates that close to a billion birds are killed every year by flying into glass. A study he conducted, with NYC Audubon, found 1.3 birds killed per hectare per year in an urban setting, which works out to over 90,000 birds per year in New York alone. All bird species are vulnerable, although migratory songbirds are the main victims. Most are killed instantly, but others succumb when they are stunned and fall prey to gulls, rats, or other predators. We have rescued over 1,200 birds, persuaded buildings to retrofit their more dangerous windows, and published Bird-Safe Building Guidelines to help architects and designers develop solutions in new buildings.
Private homes as well as skyscrapers endanger birds. Most home owners have heard the unpleasant thump that means a bird has hit a window; many have also found bird carcasses near their windows. Birds do not see the glass as a solid barrier; they see reflections of trees or sky or a fly-through to open space beyond. This should come as no surprise, since even people occasionally walk into glass doors. For a person it is merely embarrassing, for a bird it is often fatal.
Homeowners can reduce the collisions and save bird lives. Bird feeders should be placed within three feet of a window, so that birds visiting the feeder cannot get up enough flight speed to hurt themselves, or further than . Installing a pattern on a window where birds are known to hit can be uncomplicated and expensive. Patterns with negative space no greater than four by two inches, the size of a hand, are most effective. Decals of hawks or other raptors are not particularly successful, unless the decals are spaced very closely— and then it doesn’t really matter if they are of birds of prey or an abstract design.
Some suggestions for temporary or seasonal fixes:
- Place vertical tape strips at a maximum of four inches apart or horizontal strips a maximum of two inches apart. ABC BirdTape, is long-lasting and more aesthetically pleasing than masking tape or electrical tape but all are effective. Be sure to place the tape on the outside of the window for maximum effectiveness.
- Soap windows, or use window paints or tempera paints to obscure most of window.
- Purchase or make your own window gel clings. Be sure to space them no more than 4 inches apart horizontally and 2 inches apart vertically
- Draw blinds and move indoor plants away from windows. This will not work if there are strong reflections of the landscape in the window.
For more permanent fixes, ones that keep birds from striking glass or lessen reflectivity and transparency, we suggest:
- Install a frosted or opaque window film. Collidescape (www.collidescape.org) is a film that looks opaque from the outside, but allows views out. Films are most effective when applied to the outside of the window. Most films are not guaranteed when placed on the outside surface, but many are reasonably long-lasting on these surfaces.
- Install awnings, louvers, lattice work, or shades in front of windows.
Install mesh window screens.
Install unobtrusive netting in front of window. A company called Bird B Gone (www.birdbgone.com) has designed several types for glass windows and facades.
The ultimate solution would be a glass that is visible to birds but not humans. A product called Ornilux Mikado, manufactured in Germany by Arnold Glas (www.ornilux.com), incorporates an ultraviolet spidery crisscross pattern within the glass visible to birds but nearly invisible to us.
Watching birds and nature from inside your home should be a pleasure. Bird fatalities are an unintended consequence of home design. But with some creativity and imagination, you should be able to see your birds and keep them safe.
We got this window decal:
We have a large picture window in a small room, with a window on the other side, and we have a feeder in the yard outside the window. We were having birds hit the window at least once a week, and though they usually recovered and flew off after a while, they didn't always do so. Once we put the decals up the hits essentially stopped.
The decal is essentally invisible. At certain times of day you can see the vertical stripe in the centre, but otherwise you don't see it unless you are very close to the window. The picture shows it more visible than it is.
We got ours from Lee Valley, but I don't think they make it, you might be able to get it elsewhere too.
A screen on the outside of the windows would seem to accomplish the goals of both reducing visibility and reflection, while remaining attractive. Different screen colors may be available to help it blend in as well.
Hanging wind chimes or a hanging planter in front of the window helps, too.
Close your drapes when you are not home!