You’ve probably heard it — the sickening thud of a bird against a window.
You may also have seen the ghost print of spread wings, a few feathers sticking to the glass, a stunned bird in a nearby tree trying to shake it off,or a dead bird below. Annually, 1 million birds die as a result of window strikes in the U.S.
Though to us, windows are highly visible, to birds, they look like just another opening in the trees.
After many years of watching and feeding birds, I’ve tried many strategies to prevent these often-fatal collisions. Since they frequently happen near bird feeders, placing feeders as close as possible to nearby windows can lesson harm from strikes because birds can’t get up as much momentum at such a short distance. Also, being that close to a window, birds realize humans are close by and avoid flying into the space as a result.
Platform feeders fastened just beneath windows are an option, though squirrels find them an easy picnic area as well.
Another suggestion is to affix silhouettes of small bird hawks to windows as a way to frighten away songbirds. I’ve tried this, though, and have seen a mourning dove flushed by something else fly right into the window next to the silhouette.
Hanging bells, ribbons, chimes, etc., outside of a window that birds have crashed into can be effective as well —anything that breaks the illusion that the window is a safe thruway is the ticket.
Some have had success attaching a sheer nylon screen in front of particularly hazardous windows. This material won’t obstruct your view and will last two to three years. Even mist netting used by biologists and birders to catch birds for banding can be attached in front of windows and is sturdy and long lasting.
The best solution to date appears to be a new product developed by the American Bird Conservancy called bird tape, which has ultraviolet reflecting and absorbing patterns visible to birds but not humans.
After looking and listening for the telltale signs of bird strikes, you’ll probably find that only one or two windows in your home are repeat offenders. Attending to these rather than all your windows will likely fix the problem. Once you’ve determined the windows you need to address, clean and dry them and affix the tape in one of several grid patterns suggested by the manufacturer.
Bird tape is sold in 3/4-inch- or 3-inch-wide rolls and has proven very effective in presenting a visual obstacle for birds. Translucent and removable, the product is an inexpensive and novel solution to a problem that will only increase as humans place more and more window glass in bird habitat.
For more information about bird tape, please visit abcbirdtape.org.