Bird’s Invisible Enemy… Windows

Bird’s Invisible Enemy… Windows

Many of us have bird feeders at our homes and where there are bird feeders, there are bound to be window strikes. According to the American Bird Conservancy,

“Up to a billion birds die in collisions with glass each year in the United States. Although most people have seen or heard a bird hit a window, they often believe it is an unusual event. Add up all those deaths and the number is staggering.”

One billion birds is truly a devastating blow to a large population of our Earth’s wildlife that already face a long list of threats to their survival (most, if not all of which are human related). I myself usually hear three or four bird strikes at our home each year (when our bird feeders are stocked). The tendency for most people to assume bird strikes are a rare occurrence is dangerous to this important conservation effort to lower window strike occurrences. If people think it’s rare, they won’t see the need to implement or advocate for the simple yet important measures around their home and place of work to help make glass more visible to birds.

Photo credit to allaboutbirds.org

Why are windows “invisible” to birds?

When you think of a piece of glass on its own, that would be invisible to us in our environment just as it is to birds. The difference with humans is that we have reference points and framing to give us context and show where the glass is. We can see door and window frames and immediately know there is glass present. Birds, however, cannot pick up on these clues which means glass is an invisible barrier to them. The objects and scenes that are reflected in glass windows actually attract birds and results in the massive annual death toll of birds just from window strikes.

Photo credit to superiorideas.org

So what are we to do? There is no quick and easy fix that is 100% effective, but there are ways that we can help bring down the number of birds we lose each year to deaths related to window strikes. Those of you reading who are students of UNE like I am, are (hopefully) raising your hand in excitement because our wonderful campus has adopted one of these methods to help reduce bird window strikes that we will discuss in this list.

Photo credit: Press Herald
A pane of bird safe glass used at Ripich Commons on UNE Biddeford Campus

How can we help?

After my simplified list of methods, you will find a wonderful resource from a trustworthy source, the American Bird conservancy. If you are inspired after reading this blogpost to advocate for bird safe glass at your place of work, this website will give you prices and links to all the popular options. Also, I will provide an article from the Birdwatchers Digest below that goes over smaller scale steps homeowners can take to prevent bird strikes on their property.

  • Install a window screen that allows birds to bounce off of a window and not injure themselves
  • Apply vertical strips of chart tape to outside of window
  • External awnings can eliminate reflections that confuse birds
  • Apply bird shaped or other nature themed shaped decals to your windows
  • Rearrange bird feeders and baths so that they are within 3 feet of a window (too close to do serious damage), or place them much farther away at 30+ feet so that the birds are likelier to see that the window is part of the house

Stop Birds Hitting Windows

Photo credit: AP Photo/The Gazette, Bill Olmstead)

What to do with an injured bird from a window strike?

  • Calmly and gently catch the bird and place them safely in a cardboard box covered with a towel.
  • Keep the box in a quiet and dark place that is free from loud noises or a lot of activity.
  • Check on the bird every half an hour, but do not hold or touch the bird
  • If the bird seems like it has recovered from the shock and is ready to take off, place the box in a safe place and open to allow the bird to fly out.
  • If the bird does not seem to be recovering from the shock and isn’t ready to be released after several hours, contact a local wildlife rehabber that accepts avian patients.

With this post, we are venturing into conservation territory. Bird conservation is very important and has many different paths. I hope to take you down several of these paths that I have experience with myself and feel are important for people to know about due to their large impact on world bird populations in future blog posts. Stay tuned for the next blog where we will discuss a bird conservation win that is happening right here in the state of Maine on beaches not far from our beautiful Biddeford campus.

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