Photo: How to prevent bird window strikes

Bird collisions with man-made structures is a leading cause of bird death in North America. (Credit: Andria Lavine va Flickr)

Windows are deadly for birds.

More birds die each year from crashing into homes and buildings than are killed by wind turbines and vehicles combined. In Canada it's the third leading cause of wild bird death, after cats (domestic and feral) and power lines, collisions and electrocutions. Window strikes kill about 100 million birds in North America each year.

Birds can't see glass. And they fly so fast, any collision is usually fatal.

Here are some simple, affordable changes you can make at home or work to prevent these deaths:

  1. Close blinds and curtains
  2. Move indoor plants away from windows
  3. Hang old CDs, aluminum pie plates or chimes to break up the expanse of exposed glass
  4. Plant a shade tree to cut down on reflection
  5. Dim or turn off lights, especially during spring and fall migration
  6. Install special screens to cushion impact
  7. Source bird-friendly tape

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Check out the Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP) homeowner brochure (PDF) to learn what to do if a bird strikes your window and how to report it.

Do you feed birds in winter?

Your bird feeder can be an important source of calories for wild birds. Be sure any feeders and bird baths are a half a metre (or less) away from glass surfaces. This will stop birds from building up too much momentum.

What steps have you taken to prevent bird window collisions at home or work?

Lindsay Coulter, a fellow Queen of Green

November 11, 2016

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Jan 23, 2017
12:12 AM

This is the best article to know about ” Windows are deadly for birds”.Thank you for this useful information.

Dec 13, 2016
11:57 AM

I’ve found that leaving the blinds down but tilted open ( entrain style) works well though reflection could still be an issue.
As for the the cat issue, I got a CatBib for mine and it worked like a charm and preventing birding: Tip for winter feeding: don’t cut back plants with seed pods and let some leaves remain on your lawn and beds (this will attract bugs for them to eat) this will provide good natural food for them!

Dec 09, 2016
9:55 AM

thank you! Unfortunately we had this mishap in our barn last night. will fix it now

Dec 08, 2016
5:42 AM

We cut large lanky bundles of long twiggy branches from yard shrubbery and hang the bundles in front of the largest windows. Makes a great winter decoration with freshly fallen snow. Best bonus…..during all seasons tiny chickadees, gold finches, kinglets and more land on the branches to let us have a really good look at them……the best treat to have while we’re doing dishes in front of the kitchen window. When the branches become too brittle we toss in the compost and cut some more. Coloured stemmed dogwoods are the prettiest.

Dec 07, 2016
3:04 PM

The flying bird decals don’t work. The blank space that birds see must be very small, about 2 x 2 inches.

Dec 07, 2016
3:02 PM

Actually, FLAP Canada has products that work extremely well on windows. FLAP has worked with Convenience Group to develop “Feather Friendly® Bird Deterrent Technology”.

I strongly recommend that you contact FLAP as they are the leading authorities on glass and birds. They have a program (Bird Safe) that can be used to determine which windows are the most problamatic.

Dec 07, 2016
12:30 PM

We use the bird silhouette decals. No collisions since!

Dec 07, 2016
10:52 AM

We had tried pulling the shades, ribbons and raptor silhouettes, but even combined, none of them worked. Finally we installed the Feather Friendly® markers which we found on the FLAP website. It took almost a week, at 2-3 hours per day, to install them on 10 windows (we have big windows). Previous to installation we had a bird strike every couple of days, but we haven’t had any since. For the first few weeks we were aware of the dots when we looked out the windows, but now we don’t even notice them. I highly recommend them. Also, please keep your cats indoors! I volunteer at BCSPCA’s WildARC. Less than half of the birds come in from window and car strikes. More than half are caught by cats.

Dec 07, 2016
8:02 AM

I have had fantastic results with Window Alert decals — their fluorescent color that humans can barely see is like Day-Glo to birds. They just stick onto glass via static electricity (they’re super easy to put on and take off). However, you have to replace them about every 6 months (the fluorescent color fades) and they are pricey. Still, to me it’s well worth the cost to not have to see dead or injured birds near my windows.

Nov 14, 2016
1:34 PM

I have put the roll of tape squares on my cottage windows, and haven’t had a bird hurt since. Easy to do, and not that expensive. They have large decals also that I plan to get.

Nov 13, 2016
9:07 PM

Stained glass in a window.

Nov 13, 2016
12:36 PM

I put post it notes up on the outside of our picture window during fall and spring migration. This has cut down on bird collision by 90%.

Nov 13, 2016
11:23 AM

Wondering if those window decals of a flying bird silhouette work? Any thoughts?

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