Every day, more than 2 million birds fly into windows. The problem affects mostly finches and other small songbirds, but more than 220 bird species in North America are known to occasionally collide with windows. This primarily happens because the windows reflect the sky and trees, tricking birds into thinking it's an open space. Protect birds by taking preventative measures that make it clear that your windows are a no-fly zone.
Relocate Feeders and Bird Baths
If you have bird baths or bird feeders in your backyard, move them to be either 3 feet or less from windows, or set at least 30 feet away from windows. When feeders or baths are very close to windows, birds can't build up the flight speed to lethally injure themselves should they fly into a window. In contrast, if the feeders are more than 30 feet away from your home, the birds have a greater chance of realizing that the windows are part of a physical structure that they should stay clear of.
Break up the Sky's Reflection
Make it obvious to birds that the reflection of the sky in a window is not open, safe air. You have many options at your disposal to break up the reflection, including:
- Attach playful decals, sun catchers or stickers to the outside of the window. For aesthetic purposes, consider bird-only warning stickers. Available at many garden stores, these stickers look clear to human eyes but can be seen in the ultraviolet spectrum by birds.
- Run strips of masking tape in a grid pattern across the window.
- Rub a bar of soap back and forth on the window. The soap streaks are enough to alert birds. Or, mix a couple tablespoons of dish detergent in a quart of water and spray the soapy mixture on the window. When it dries, the soapy sheen will disfigure any sky reflections.
If your home has a pair of windows directly across from each other, keep one of those windows shuttered or curtained at all times. Otherwise, the birds can see straight through to the other side and may attempt to fly through.
Some bird watchers may suggest using scare deterrents, such as fake hawks or owls attached to the window. This is ineffective and will not prevent birds from flying into windows.
Hang up Visual, Noisy Repellents
Repel birds away from windows by hanging shiny, noisy repellents in front of the window. These include metallic wind chimes, strips of loosely hanging Mylar tape that flutter and sparkle in the wind, or unwanted CDs suspended on string and hung close enough together that they can twirl and hit each other. The light, noise and movement keep birds at bay.
Get Help After a Collision
Even with the best precautions, a bird may still fly into a window. After a collision, the bird will often lie on the ground in a daze, leaving it exposed to predators. It's crucial to take immediate measures to save the bird.
Things You'll Need
- Cardboard box
Poke a dozen air holes in a cardboard box with screwdriver. A shoebox makes an easily sealed box for birds.
Cover the bird with a towel. The darkness will immediately calm it down.
Wrap the towel under the bird and pick it up gently.
Place the bird into the cardboard box and remove the towel.
Close the box and place it in a warm, dark and secluded spot, such as inside a bedroom closet.
Check on the box once every half hour by gently opening the box and peeking inside. Avoid touching the bird.
Take the box outside if the bird is awake and fluttering around. Place the box on the ground, open it up and step back from the box to allow the bird to fly away.
Contact a state wildlife rehabilitator if the bird doesn't fly away after two hours of being in the box.