Scientists recently found that the U.S. and Canada have lost billion birds over the last 50 years. Like many bird species, we have lost 2 out of 5 Baltimore Orioles since 1970. There is hope and everyone can do their part to help. Every year nearly one billion birds collide with glass in the U.S., with nearly half happening at homes.
Birds often don’t see glass, so collisions happen when they fly towards natural reflections in the glass, like clouds, sky, or plants, or even house plants they can see through windows. During spring and fall migration, birds are attracted to lights-from porches, landscaping, or shining through windows. Many birds that seem fine following a window collision may later die from related head injuries. Prevention is the best option.
Fortunately, you can stop birds from hitting your windows using inexpensive and attractive solutions– a small change at your home can make a BIG difference for birds!
Turning off unneeded lights, especially during spring and fall, will help prevent birds from hitting your windows.
Additionally, an inexpensive 4-inch by 2-inch pattern added to any “problem” window(s) will help highlight the hazard for birds. By listening for the sounds of collisions, and looking for bird crash marks on windows, you can help you decide which windows neec;i attention.
There are a few different ways you can treat windows to reduce strikes, and most of them can be done cheaply and easily.
Hawk silhouettes are a popular, but mostly ineffective, tool to reduce bird collisions; they only prevent birds from hitting glass when applied in high densities. Vertical stripes or patterns (at least 1/4 inch-wide, maximum spacing of 4 inches), or horizontal stripes (at least 1/4 inch-wide, maximum spacing of 2 inches) are effective at preventing window collisions for most birds (see the last image). To reduce hummingbird collisions, closer spacing is necessary (2 x 2-inch grid). Dark colored patterns may be difficult for birds to see if dark colors reflect on the glass.
Patterns applied to the outside of windows will prevent more bird collisions than inside.
Zen curtains (11 cents ft2). This elegant, inexpensive option uses 1/8-inch paracord pieces spaced less than 4 inches apart, hanging outside from the top of the window. These curtains can be purchased pre-made or constructed of readily available and inexpensive materials. It’s also a fun and simple project for kids!
Tempera paint (13 cents ft2). Non-toxic tempera paint patterns or artwork applied to exterior glass can reduce bird collisions for many years. Tempera paint is easily . removed using vinegar and water.
Screens and netting ($1.83 ft2). External insect screens reduce bird collisions by minimizing window reflections and alerting birds that windows are barriers. Netting prevents injuries to birds if it’s placed inches in front of the window and stretched tight to prevent birds from hitting the glass. Net openings should be ½-inch or smaller, so birds aren’t captured. Several companies sell screens that can be attached with suction cups or eye hooks.
Tape, decals, and external films ($2.50-8.00 ft2). Products are available in many colors, tints, and patterns.
Your actions can make a big difference for birds. Start making your difference today! For more information please contact: Richard Novak at [email protected], or visit https://www.fws.gov/library/collections/threats-birds-collisions.