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What Should You Do When Birds Collide With A Window?
Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 by eNature
Silhouettes of birds of prey on windows often reduce bird/window collisions.
Silhouettes of birds of prey on windows often reduce bird/window collisions.
Place feeders close to or on windows to reduce bird/window collisions.
Place feeders close to or on windows to reduce bird/window collisions.
© wdj(0) via Flickr

As spring continues and bird activity is peaking, you’ve probably noticed birds colliding with your windows, especially if you live in a wooded area.

This is a common but huge problem that takes the lives of millions of birds annually.

What can you do to keep birds from your windows?

And what should you do if you see a bird collide with your window?

Our birding expert, George Harrison (the birder, not the Beatle!) offers some tips below…..


How To Keep Birds From Hitting Windows
Window collisions occur when a flying bird sees the refection of the yard or sky in the glass and flies into it. Anything that will reduce or eliminate these reflections in the glass will reduce bird collisions.

Some people hang shiny streamers or fine screening on the windows during peak migration periods. Others cloud the glass with soap. If the house is under construction, the windows can be installed tilting downward slightly to reduce reflections.

Other people paste silhouettes of hawks, owls, or spider webs on the windows, which is effective only around the area where the silhouette is located. Locating feeders on or near the windows will reduce the speed at which birds hit the glass.


What To Do If A Bird Hits Your Window
George states, “It has been my experience that only one out of ten collisions is fatal.”  He adds that usually the bird is stunned, falls to the ground, and begins a period of recovery that may take up to an hour.

During that recovery period, the bird is vulnerable to hawks, house cats, or weather conditions. Some hawks have learned a hunting strategy of swooping down on active bird feeders, causing the birds to panic in all directions, including into windows, where they become easy prey.

To protect a stunned bird that has hit a window, George suggests covering it with a large kitchen sieve. The bird is less visible and is confined, allowing it time to recover. When the bird attempts to leave the sieve, it has recovered enough to be liberated.


Have you experienced birds colliding with your windows?  What sort of tricks have you used?

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Comments

I read long time ago and forget where to take yellow high lighter and mark windown on inside with a pattern of X’s, on all the window,, is hard for us to see but birds see it, last spring i washed winows and didn’t put yellow high light on right away and in an hour a bird hit glass,, After getting on , have not have a bird hit window again.

Posted by Dianna Godberson on 5/22

We have taped our windows with white tape put on in squares (mimicking leaded glass only not so pretty!)
So far so good. Not a single hit compared to about five a day before.

Posted by Jenny D. on 5/22

Another way of treating stunned birds that have collided with the window is to put them in a small cardboard box with a cover. Put the box (with bird inside) in a sheltered place outside (I’ve also brought it inside to the coolest room in the house when it’s really cold out), and check after an hour (or so). Like the author said, 9 out of 10 collisions are not fatal, and after that hour the little feathered friend is usually ready to go. I take the box outside (if it’s not already there) and open the cover. The bird fies away. Here at home we refer to this as the “bird hospital”.

Posted by Alan Kassien on 5/22

Well dirty windows don’t reflect, lol.

Where I live now I, I haven’t had any problems. I think it might be because the sliding glass doors are generally shaded & I have blinds that are often partly closed. But mainly I’m guessing that it may be because of the shade.

A couple months ago a neighbor was outside sort of freaking because a bird had hit her window & she didn’t know if it was dead & was afraid to check. I offered to help. Went over there & the bird had apparently hopped under her screen door through a small gap & then got inside. So it hit the window inside.

When I got there is was hopping around some plants she had. I asked her to open the sliding door & then I went around on the opposite side from the opening to sort of herd it toward the opening. It worked. Must have been a migratory bird as it was not one I recognized as a local.

Posted by Kathi on 5/22

My neighbor and I had a robin attacking his reflection, I guess, for weeks. I even hug a fluttering plastic grocery sack on the outside of the window, with no luck. He’s sit on my step railing, and left a lot of souvenirs there. He was also trying to build a nest over the neighbor’s door, but she kept tearing it down. H finally went away.

Posted by Barb C/ on 5/22

This is from Biomimicry 3.8 - AskNature.org
http://www.asknature.org/strategy/decb05899e5e6a7a15b91f9edb509c42
Web decorations are silk structures used by orb-web spiders to entice prey and warn predators. A German glass company ORNILUX - Insulated architectural glass uses this strategy to prevent bird collisions.

Using spectrophotometric analyses to show that the decorations of all five tested spider species are visible to honey bees and birds over short and long distances.” (Bruce et al. 2005:299)

“Web decorations reflect light in the UV range and may exploit an inherent sensory bias of insects toward UV light, thereby increasing the foraging success of the spider. Decorations may advertise the position of the web to larger animals such as birds, which then avoid contacting and accidentally damaging the web.” (Herberstein and Fleitsch 2003:623)

Posted by Linda Paisley on 5/22

we had a robin that kept hitting the window where it was building a nest for several days.  It did not hit it hard enough to knock himself out, but every few minutes he would hit it and then again and again.

Posted by steve bennett on 5/22

I live on a busy street across from a two+ acre lot with lots of trees and a small stream. I like having my curatins (no sheers) so that my dog, cats and I can enjoy the view. Unfortunately, birds that are drawn to the acreage’s amenities often collide with the glass in my picture window because of its reflection. At a home improvement store recently, I purchased window film to aid with privacy in my living room - and to hopefully reduce these collisions. It’s not very expensive, provides UV protection for furniture, carpeting and artwork, and helps to insulate the glass. It’s also available in a variety of stained glass and opaque patterns.

Posted by Gina Curtis on 5/22

Every year or so we have the problem of a bird continually flying into a window. Itis not always the same window, but it often is a robin.  This year it was a wood thrush, a robin relative.  I find brightly colored sticky notes randomly stuck on the inside of the window in question to be very effective.  They are inexpensive, and can be removed once the bird stops the behavior—generally in less than an hour.

Posted by Barbara on 5/22

I had some stick on leaves that were visable to birds but nearly invisable otherwise. When our windows were replaced they wouldn’t stick anymore. I don’t remember where we got them but they worked.

Posted by Jim B. on 5/22

Regarding the new glass developed by ornilux, I wonder if they do or will make a film that can be applied to existing window glass.  I would love to use that!
I am also going to try hanging some cd’s from lines outside our windows, as our stickers (both solid and uv) have not worked very well.

Posted by Janet on 5/22

Michaels and other craft stores carry “clings” ... temporary decals that cling to the surface.  They can be found in seasonal designs.  I got my set at Valentines because I believed the birds could see the red hearts clearly.  They can and the suicide strikes have ended.
You can also do a Google “bird saver decals” and find several companies that sell the ones that WE canNOT see, but the birds can.

Posted by Gramma GG on 5/22

Robins attack windows during spring because they think they’re seeing another robin.  It’s a territorial thing.  Paper on outside of window or smearing with dish soap usually works.  They rinse off after the robin leaves.

Posted by Julie on 5/22

Birds were always flying into my back patio window. I’ve put up the rubber ‘clings’ stickers on the outside or hang them on the inside. Not just one but several all around the window. I put up red, white and blue starts. Something that says ‘don’t fly here’.  The x works too.  gramma gg is correct.

Posted by Chris B on 5/22

“suicide strikes” is a great term for what I’ve experienced, Gramma GG. Are you by chance in IN?

Posted by Gina Curtis on 5/22

I have had several birds hit my windows,if it is not fatal I usually pick them up and lightly stroke there stomach,(kind of bird cpr) and it has always worked. It takes them a few min but them they fly away.

Posted by Sherry Sparks on 5/22

We live in the woods and have big french doors on our porch.  We keep decals on the outside of the glass to break up the reflection.  The other day, a Hermit Thrush hit one of our front windows.  It was a very damp, cold day - so I picked him up, cupped him in my hands and held him to keep him warm for an hour.  After he perked up, he perched on my finger for a bit, then flew off to a nearby tree branch where he fluffed each wing to check for damage.  I saw him the next day, happily hunting bugs under our pine trees.

Posted by Emily Roesly on 5/22

I’ve strung “mardi gras” beads down my windows, two strands, with a decorative ornament on the bottom.  They are appealing and a bird hasn’t hit this yet.  2 years.

Posted by julie on 5/22

I have used yellow highlighter and it works very well. I’ve also heard that even if a bird recovers after a window strike, it may later die from bleeding into the brain, from a fractured skull.. I thought their heads were pretty hard, so I hope that isn’t the case..

Posted by Lynda Blair on 5/22

I found a dead male cardinal on the porch yesterday morning. I may try some of these remedies.  I still have an owl print on one of my windows. I’m assuming it survived since I never found a dead owl in my yard. It must have been a screech owl as it had the shape of one.

Posted by Karen Oliver-Paull on 5/22

I was not meaning to but caused the death of a beautiful female cardinal(sp?). She hit the window & thinking I’d be of assistance, I picked her up & put her on the bird feeder! Well needless to say when she came to she fell off & broke her neck. I cried like a child. named her Cardie and procedded to burry her. I then came in and felt that as much as I wanted to be a helper, I should have let her be. It was very sad to me.
So I do thank you for the protocall for this should it happen again.
I save the twisty ribbon from Christmas gifts & hang on the door & windows in the spring.
c

Posted by Cathleen on 5/22

I have wind chimes around the house and when old CDs hang off the bottom or are part of the chime they turn in the breeze and the reflection is a deterent to birds. No collisions since the CDs have been used. Jill North Jackson CA

Posted by Jill North on 5/22

My mom & dad always had pretty glass or plastic “suncatchers” in their windows, or “clings” for the various holidays.  So I do, too. Spiders around here seem to build large webs outside our windows, and I didn’t realize that may be preventing bird “suicide strikes”.  I think they are fascinating structures, anyway, and they definitely control pest insects—thankfully no butterflies, though!
We have an infrequent (luckily) “visiting” hawk who will do the aforementioned swoops, but he usually “scores” immediately and leaves.  We have more problems with a neighbor’s cat coming into our yard to get birds than with window collisions, though.

Posted by Barbara on 5/22

I’ve used the clings on my windows, but the birds didn’t pay attention to them and still flew into the windows.  I found a company on the internet, collidescape.org, which sells a film that covers the windows.  From the inside it looks like a screen, but from the outside, which the birds see, is a white film.  I’ve had it on my windows for a couple of weeks now, and not one bird has hit ! ! !  The film is kind of pricey, but when I think about the birds, it’s worth it—especially since it works.  To keep the price down, I didn’t follow their directions exactly, which was to cover every inch of the windows, instead I’d buy a couple of the larger pieces of film that they sell and cut one to cover two windows, usually leaving a couple of inches of the window edges clear.  It really works.

Posted by ELLELN BLACK on 5/23

I’ve stopped birds from flying into windows, or at least not being injured, by hanging deer net over the windows and a few inches away. I use 1/4” wooden dowels (bamboo plant stakes will do fine, too), thread them through the top and bottom of the net and hang from long tv antenna cable hooks screwed into the top of the window frame or siding above.

If the birds do hit the netting, they see it before and are going more slowly and are not injured. The netting blocks little of the view (window screen blocks a lot more).

I have several feeders 12’ away from the windows and lots of birds. No birds have been killed or injured since I started hanging the deer net several years ago. Before the netting, several were killed every year.

Posted by John Franklin on 5/23

I’ve had good luck with the gel decorative clings. If they are scattered, they seem to work.  In the past we’ve used the bird of prey cutouts, and I noticed that seemed to be effective only in the area of the cutout. We have windows on both east and west walls, so it looks like a great thoroughfare. The angle of the sun must add to the effect in spring/fall, as that is the highest strike time.  I just tried the yellow highlighter, and it IS fairly invisible!  Thanks for all the tips!

Posted by Mary on 5/23

We have a problem with Cardinals attacking vehicle mirrors. We have cover the mirrors or clean them every day.

Posted by Jim on 5/23

I live in the suburbs conjunction to green acres and have 10 plus feeding stations in my front and backyard.  I enjoy seeing various birds, bird of prey and critters come to my house.  Since it is my passion to save lives of domestic and wild life..( I do volunteer rescue and rehab), I tried pretty much everything that claims to prevent bird collisions with windows.  I started to use window screen on the outside of my windows.. You can buy replacement window screen from Home Depot or Lowes and cut it to the size of each window and attach it with clear tape.  I did this to all my house windows. Since then, I have never seen any bird hitting my windows.  It works great because it really takes the glare and reflection off the windows.  I used to spend a few hundred dollars on prevention stickers but this method is very economical and works the best for me.

Posted by Maki on 5/23

Vertical window blinds, left open, help prevent random window strikes.
Last year a Cooper’s hawk learned how to spook my feeder birds into my kitchen window. Although it is heartbreaking to watch, we all must keep things in perspective. In nature, survival means outwitting your predator or your prey. The hawks need to eat just as much as the cardinals do. Why do we think that it is OK to provide an easy meal for one but not the other? Instead of fretting about it, admire the beauty and intelligence of the hawk!

Posted by Xenia on 5/23

I work part-time in a new home visitor’s center and we have had a male cardinal, young one I think, hitting our windows for at least two months now.  He hits it constantly, every day, starting early in the morning until 5-6pm.  We have tried everything to deter him - Of course since we have to maintain a “visitor’s decor” which includes being able to see the outdoor woodsy and lake view through the windows, we are limited to how much we can put on the windows.  We have tried an owl sitting outside on the window sill, ribbon streamers, decals on the windows, little figurines on the top window sill, balloons floating and bobbing around the outside, anything we can think of.  Since the windows are tall and multi-paned, he just goes to another window pane.  Apparently he has been assigned the job of attacking our windows by his “boss cardinal” and he is intent on doing his job well.

Posted by Jude on 5/23

American Bird Conservancy now sells “bird tape” to the public. Tests show it can significantly reduce collisions with glass windows and doors. More info here: http://www.abcbirdtape.org/

Posted by Dawn on 5/23

Since the posts are limited in characters allowed, I had to cut the following off my previous posting so am posting it in this separate posting….

I had a female cardinal hitting my window a couple of years ago here at home - it was a bathroom window located high on the wall, only about a foot tall and about 4 feet wide with a windowsill - I read on the Internet something about putting Barbie dolls where they are hitting - Since I had Barbie dolls here that my granddaughter plays with, I tried that - sitting them on the windowsill - it worked grin

Posted by Jude on 5/23

We just eat them…

Posted by Junko on 5/23

As a rehabilitator in Idaho, we recommend any that have hit the window to be picked up, put in a small box in a dark room with some fleece and a little seed to recover.
I have been using the small netting “Bird Block” that is sold to protect fruit from birds and deer. Stretch is taught over the window, it cushions the hit and can be see a little by the birds. So far it is working quite well and I have not had many fatalities and it doesn’t obstruct your view.

Posted by Janelle on 5/23

Reflections of sky/trees only happen on certain of my windows at certain times of day, so I find out when those are and I keep our big plantation shutters closed at those times, but with the blind parts horizontal for light and view - works perfectly. I am also going to try hanging crystals on long fishing line in the windows so the light sparkles and reflects, and will also cast rainbows in our interior. I follow the rule about either having feeders right at our window or at least 20 feet away, and try to place them so they are not in obvious flight-lines with the windows. This all has really changed things so no strikes any longer.

Posted by Anne Jurika on 5/23

And, although politically incorrect another way to save thousands of birds each year would be to go home and kill your cat.  The National Audubuon Society says 100 million birds a year fall prey to the domesticated cat (and feral ones, too!

Posted by Ed the Forester on 5/23

Last year a indigo bunting was stunned by hitting our picture window. He was beautiful. I put him in a box and kept him inside until I heard him stirring. Gave him some water and let him go. This year not so lucky. A pair of Baltimore orioles hit the window together and both had broken necks. They were so gorgious. I wish they could have been mounted for a school or library to show the children how beautiful they are. There are now decals on my windows. So far so good.

Posted by Mae on 5/23

Our neighbor had a bird house on a fence in his back yard the blue birds always made it their home every spring. Last Spring two blue birds dove at his window’s intentionally for a few days.
He said it was the strangest thing to see. He inspected the bird house to find a rat in it. After he remove the rat and cleaned the bird house the blue birds made their nest once again!

Posted by Tony C on 5/23

Check the American Bird Conservancy website for information on their new window tape.
http://www.abcbirds.org/newsandreports/releases/120221.html
Have not tried it, but currently am having success with clingy black silhouettes of birds- something to break up the reflection helps.

ABC says that birds will try to fly through an opening as small as the palm of your hand,so decals do have to be put close together.

Posted by Jane on 5/23

We have had excellent results with decals called WindowAlert. There have been NO bird hits in the last 3 years since sticking these on windows and doors that used to get hit. They have a website and you can also find them on Amazon and other sites.
I HIGHLY recommend the decals. It is so worth it not to have the stress and pain of dead birds.

Posted by Ohio on 5/23

The Goffin Cockatoo is a very popular species of cockatoo that is indigenously found in multiple areas of the globe, including parts of South East Asia, and Indonesia. This Cockatoo species has also been introduced successfully to several areas including Central and South America, in addition to other areas such as Singapore. The Goffin Cockatoo is also known as the Tanimbar Corella, or the Goffin’s Corella.

Posted by goffin cockatoo on 5/24

So much for Window Alert decals. This morning a pair of indigo buntings hit our window. Both were stunned, the female more so, not sure she would make it. Put them in a box with paper towels and covered. About 40 minutes later a lot of flapping wings. Opened the box outside and away they both flew. What a beautiful sight!

Posted by Mae in on 5/24

I heard at a Bioneers conference this winter about birds never flying into spider webs. Therefore that a window company makes windows with a substance like it to prevent birds flying into them.

Posted by Susan Howe on 5/24

When we first moved into our home in a wooded area we had birds flying into our windows.  We tried all the usual suspects—decals, CD discs, streamers, etc.  The wind made the latter 2 impossible!  What has worked is hanging sectionz of 1/2-inch square bird netting from hooks placed in the soffit overhang.  Plastic curtain hooks are attached along the bottom for just enough weight to keep the net in place.  Leave space between the net and the windows—hawks still spook birds but they usually veer off when they see the net.  No fatalities and very few strikes since hanging the nets.  It doesn’t interfere with looking out or taking pictures thru the glass.

Posted by Carole Jamerson on 5/28

with large picture windows and smaller ones at 90 degrees we got strikes until I closed the curtains on the small window, then no strikes.  I think the birds were trying to fly thru the corner.

when birds are stunned, I put them in a watch cap outside.  No chance of forgetting to release them, they just hop out when they’re ready.

Posted by babs ward on 5/28

I had a male yellow American finch collide with our window and was lying on our front porch and had blood oozing from its beak.  I brought him in the house and put him in a box lined with a towel and covered with a lingerie bag in case he decided to start flying.  I also put water in a bottle cap and rinsed off his beak and found the bleeding had stopped.  After about 30 minutes I took the bird back outside and held him in my hands.  He took off with no ill effects.  It was awesome to hold him, though!

Posted by Barbara Lake on 5/28

I have another story regarding birds hitting windows.  For four years we had a pair of bluebirds I named Bart and Blossom.  Blossom knew I was a protector of sorts and every morning she would “knock” on our living room window until I got up.  She hit the window with the side of her head and it left an oily smudge as if I’d rubbed it with a cotton ball soaked in baby oil.  As soon as she saw me she’d fly off.  Sometimes she had a special request, like when there was snow on her house—she hated that—and I’d go brush it off.  Blossom was a very special bluebird and I miss her terribly.

Posted by Barbara Lake on 5/28

You haven’t seen anything till you’ve seen a full grown turkey fly into your window. We thought it was going to join us in our living room, but luckily for us and the turkey he didn’t break the glass or hurt himself.

Posted by Jim on 5/28

Just wanted to add my 2 cents about the collidescape.org product.  We have had it on our windows for over 2 years and have not had a single bird strike in that entire time.  Prior to that we had several fatalities, even though we had the sticky film decals. 

After the first few windows were so successful, we put the collidescape film on our storm door, which is a full-length door. 

As was noted above, looking from the inside of the house, it appears like one is looking through a regular screen.  From the outside it is white—or any color or design you can imagine; the choices are endless.  It’s similar to the stuff that is put on city bus windows for advertising.

I can’t say enough good things about this product ... it really works.

Posted by Robin Lohr on 5/29

When a bird hits my window I go look to see if it is lying on the deck.  If so, I lay a wash rag over it leaving the head open.  When it recovers it flies away.

Posted by Carol on 5/31

6/6/12 I have a cardinal that hits my bedroom window from 5:30 am through 8:00pm. He sits on the sill looking in at me and just bumps into the window to get my attention.  He has been doing this for about 3 weeks now.  My cat has had more damage done to him than the cardinal.  My cat has shredded the curtain.  The animals sometimes just look at each other through the pane. It is almost as though the bird is teasing the cat. If I go into the kitchen the cardinal will then perch on the kitchen window and bump into it, just enough to let me know he’s there.  If I go outside to smoke, he sits in the mimosa tree and watches me.  When I pull in the driveway he is right there flying next to my Jeep.  I find this very odd behavior.  Maybe there is something to reincarnation.

Posted by Christina Coon on 6/6

Christina, I do believe that birds tease other animals; they are very smart. My dog hates one of “my” robins - the bird will sit about three fence outside the chain-link fence that surrounds the yard for an extended period of time, always in the same spot. It drives my dog nuts because he can see the bird but can’t get to it! (In turn, I am driven nuts by the dog.) Did you read above where the bluebird would bang the window when the birdhouse had snow on it?

Posted by Gina Curtis on 6/6

Christina,

Wow, it seems to me that the cardinal is telling you something…  I really believe that spirits can come back…

Posted by Maki on 6/6

One time a big beautiful bird, a little bigger than a robin, hit my Mom’s window.  I went out on the porch and saw him sitting there with his mouth open.  He didn’t even run away.  He was very stunned! He didn’t even move.  I went inside and put on some leather gloves. The I went back out on the porch, picked him up the bird and held him in my hand.  I petting him, talking to him gentle while waving my hand across his eyes now and then to see if he had come out of being stunned yet.  I kept talking to him, petting him.  He finally saw my hand wave across his face and he flew to a tree limb right next to us.  He sat there for about a half an hour and finally flew away.

Posted by Barbara DelGiudice on 6/10

Window film work great as a deterrent for bird collisions. You can get film a variety of different designs and patterns to be aesthetically pleasing as well as functional. Find more information about this on http://www.featherfriendly.org

Posted by Feather Friendly on 6/12

I have experienced a bird hitting the window although i live in a sub divivison what i did was dampin a white rag are a light pice of cloth an pick up the bird and move it to the shade of a bush are a place that hides it from the bigger birds and watch it until it flies away.

Posted by diane on 6/22

i had the same issue but had it resolved with placing a film on the glass.
http://www.howlettassociates.co.uk

Posted by dennis on 6/23

This is the silliest article I’ve seen in a while. Birds don’t see the sky or lawn reflected in your window, they see their own reflection and consider it a competitor. I have lived in the woods for many years and seen many birds sit on the sill and attack the same pane of glass repeatedly. I put images of predators in that pane to keep the birds from making such a mess on the sill.

Posted by Dr. Mike on 6/26

it seems to me that the cardinal is telling you something…  I really believe that spirits can come back…

property investments

Posted by Kashif on 6/29
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