How to Protect Birds From Window Collisions

Wednesday, June 8, 2022
Window strikes kill an estimated 100 million to 1 billion birds each year across North America. Injuries from these strikes are often fatal, but thankfully, they are largely preventable. Here are our top tips on how to prevent window strikes from occurring at your home, year-round.

Northern Cardinal feeding from Featherweight QuickBites Window Feeder

Proper feeder placement
Window strikes kill billions of birds each year, and hanging your feeders at the proper distance can help save birds' lives. Keep feeding stations either less than 3', or more than 10' from windows to help deter strikes from occurring. When feeders are closer than 3', birds may still hit windows in a panic (ex. if hawk flies overhead) but can't gain momentum and are more likely to bump slightly and escape uninjured. When feeders are farther than 10', birds are given more space to flee without flying into windows in a panic. In addition to this, having a window feeder is also a great way to discourage window strikes from occurring on that particular window, as it cuts the reflection in the glass and gives the birds a chance to slow down before a strike can take place.

Turn out the lights
During migration, many species (about two thirds of our migratory bird species!) travel by night, using the constellations to help with navigation. Often times during this nocturnal journey birds are attracted to our man-made lights, confusing them with stars, and collide with buildings. Reducing the risk of these strikes is simple - turn out the lights! Turn off all lights when possible, and if you need to keep a light on at night , opt for motion sensored lights, or bulbs with warm yellowish hues as these have proven to be less attractive to birds than white or blue lights. 

Feather Friendly Bird Collision Deterrent Markers  

Apply window strike deterrents
Window strike deterrents are decals that adhere to windows and limit the amount of reflective surface area on the glass, greatly reducing the risk of window strikes. There are several window strike deterrent markers available to purchase in stores, but the best options on the market are Window Alert, and Feather Friendly Bird Collision Deterrent Markers (shown in photo above). Feather Friendly decals are easy to apply, and work well for any size and shape windows with an option of white markers (for standard windows) or black (perfect for glass deck railings) Note that Feather Friendly decals must be applied when temperatures hit a consistent 10C or higher.

Cover reflective surfaces (for intentional strikes)
Have you ever had a bird persistently pecking and flapping around your windows? Or around your vehicles? This type of behaviour typically happens during nesting season, as birds establish territories and fend of rivals who come into their turf. In these cases, the other bird is actually their own reflection in your windows or vehicle mirrors. To stop this behavior you will need to cover the reflective surface the bird is attacking. Window decals do not work in this situation. You will need to cover the entire area. Sometimes once you cover the spot they are attacking they may move onto the next reflective surface and so on. So you may need to cover more than one window. There are many options for covering your window one of the cheapest ways is to cover them with newspaper. It may not look nice but it will solve the problem. The good news is when mating and nesting is over so is this problem so typically your windows only need to be covered until late June or early July at the latest (typically this behaviour is over much sooner near the end of May). 

Baltimore Oriole stunned after window collision

What to do if a bird hits your window
Even if you make your windows as bird-safe as possible, the odd strike still may occur. This typically happens when a bird is startled from a perch or feeder near your windows and takes off quickly without planning a safe escape route. If you are able to approach and capture the injured bird, do so and place in a well-ventilated box. Place the box in a dark and quiet room. It is important that you do not give the bird food or water at this time as sick or injured birds can easily aspirate. Contact your nearest wildlife rehabilitation facility immediately. For a list of facilities in Ontario, click here. 

Happy trails!
- Shayna 

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