When Birds Collide
There was a disturbing article about birds crashing into windows (or window strikes) in the Winter 2014 issue of Living Bird, the publication of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Apparently the typical American home passively kills 1-3 birds per year through window strikes, likely more if there are bird feeders around. This may not sound like much, but it accounts for an estimated 44% of window strike deaths. (Estimates of bird deaths from window strikes range from 365 million to 1 billion in the US alone.) Almost all of the remainder come from low-rise buildings.
While you would think that those tall glass skyscrapers would be a significant hazard for birds, in fact they account for only about 1% of deaths from window strikes.
Window strikes are an occasional problem with our back porch, the only part of our house with larger windows not subdivided into panes. In the ten years we have lived here, I have found two dead birds that seemed to have been victims of window strikes. However, it’s possible that there are more victims I never see.
Occasionally we hear a loud “thump!” while sitting on the porch, then realize that a bird had flown into the window. Generally they are stunned, but recover and fly away.
Recommended steps to reduce bird deaths from window strikes include:
- Keep feeders within one foot of your windows. This prevents birds from building up speed before a crash. In our garden I don’t think this would be practical, as being close to the windows would convert bird feeders into squirrel feeders.
- You can deck your windows with string, tape, decals or a special bird tape produced by the American Bird Conservancy.
- Keep the window screens on or hang fine netting over your windows.
The problem with the last two is that we like to take photographs of the birds from inside, so we’ll have to think about this. It is suggested that just putting up materials during the migration seasons could be helpful. Honestly, I’m not sure which if any of these steps we might take. When asked for comment, Judy stated plainly that she would not sacrifice her view of the garden in order to save a couple of birds. She’s very unsentimental, at least when it comes to birds.
Research is ongoing to develop window glass with patterns that can be seen by birds but not people. However, it does not appear that this is a technology that will be effective in the immediate future.
Are you concerned about birds flying into your windows?