How To Bird-Proof Your Windows

by Lauren PezzulloApril 21, 2017

If the eyes are the window to the soul, your windows are surely the soul of your home. Whether you’ve got wide bay windows with a stunning backyard view, casement windows that make it easy to flood your home with a fresh breeze, or a protruding garden window perfect for up-close wildlife interaction, your home’s windows are your link to the magnificent outdoors just on the other side of the glass.

Unfortunately, the bird population doesn’t feel quite as charmed about your windows. In fact, an estimated one billion birds die each year in the US alone from window collisions. To birds in flight, a window is an optical illusion. They don’t see the panes of glass as a deadly barrier, but as a reflection of the sky and trees around them, so they continue on their flight path—usually with fatal results. The birds that don’t die on impact are usually still fatally injured—from internal bleeding or a blood hemorrhage—and left in a weakened, fragile state where they can’t escape or protect themselves from predators.

But you can do your part to help keep the wildlife safe—without obscuring your portal to the outside world. Here’s how to give your windows an easy and ethical revamp for the safety of our favorite winged creatures.

Change the Location of Your Bird Feeder

One of the most common reasons a bird will strike a window is because it gets startled off a feeder — most commonly by a hawk or other predator. But with strategic placement of the feeder (or birdbath or other attractant) in one of two spots, you can dramatically reduce bird mortality rates. The first option is to place the feeder within 1-3 feet away from your windows, which will ensure they don’t have enough distance to build the required momentum for top speed flight. The other safe bet is to place feeders more than 30 feet away from a window because from this far away, our feathered friends are more likely to see the window as part of the house, and therefore less likely to fly toward it.

Make Your Windows Visible to Birds From Outside Your Home

  • Bird screens: This is undoubtedly one of the most effective ways to protect the feathered wildlife. Cover the glass outside your windows with a taut stretch of mesh netting (also known fruit or crop netting) — at least 3 inches away from the glass. This will cushion the blow of any careening birds by bouncing them off the netting before they make contact with the glass. Small-mesh netting—5/8″ (1.6 cm) in diameter, for example—is the safest, to ensure that even smaller birds won’t get stuck or tangled upon impact. If you’re concerned about aesthetics, you can even stretch the netting on a mounted frame for easy portability. The best part is that you don’t have to worry about an obstructed view — these screens won’t interfere any more than the ones already installed in your windows.
  • Window film:This one-way transparent window covering maintains your picturesque view of the outdoors, but adds an opaque appearance on the outside. Not only will it save your favorite finches and warblers from colliding with your windows, it’ll also give you added privacy and security for your home.
  • Shutters: To minimize the outside glare on your windows, keep exterior shutters closed when you’re not in a room. This is also a great way to increase your home’s energy efficiency and save on spiking summer utility bills. External awnings or sun shades are a next-best option here.
  • New windows: If you’re getting new windows installed, plan ahead and ask for the double-hung type. Some ornithophiles even have tilted glass installed, since its downward angle reflects the ground, rather than the sky and trees.

Make Your Windows Visible to Birds From Outside Your Home

The key to preventing bird collisions is to remove the reflective appearance of your windows. If your budget won’t allow for any of the above suggestions, work with what you already have. Keep curtains or shades closed whenever possible, or even gather or suspend tree branches in front of the most commonly struck windows to interfere with the reflection.

If you do happen to find a bird who has suffered from a window collision, cover and transport it — as gently as possible and only when using gloves — into a shoebox or cardboard box with a lid that is secure and punctured with plenty of breathing holes. Keep the box in a safe, quiet, dark place in your home that’s warm and away from noise. Check on the bird every 30 minutes, without touching it. If the bird seems alert and recuperated, take the box outside and open the lid, watching to see if it flies away. If it doesn’t leave, contact a wildlife rehabilitator.

Whether you’re an all-around animal lover without bias or a fanatical bird watcher with binoculars and a field guide in your pocket at all times, take comfort in the fact that you’ve now helped to dramatically reduce the mortality rate of these avian creatures.

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About The Author
Lauren Pezzullo
Lauren Pezzullo is a writer, editor, and musicophile who's passionate about vegetarianism and sustainable eating. As an editor for Modernize, she writes about energy-efficient living in the home. She's currently writing her debut novel.