A chickadee lands on the ground and grabs a small bug for a snack. It quickly takes off only to fly smack dab into your front window, and you hear that awful “thud”.
Fortunately this was only a glancing hit. After retreating to a nearby tree branch to recover, the chickadee regains its wits and flies off in another direction. This little bird was lucky. Window collisions result in many thousands of bird deaths every year.
Clear glass is totally invisible to birds. Instead, they see reflections of their surroundings, like trees and sky. Or they find a houseplant or shiny objects inside your house very interesting, and fly towards them. If you take a walk around your house and look at the reflections in your windows, you will see them as your birds see them.
However, you can minimize or even eliminate this problem by hanging objects either inside or outside the glass window or door to break up those reflections.
About 6 years ago I had the idea to use strips of vinyl adhesive paper (brand name ‘Contact’) arranged in a diagonal pattern, to prevent my wild birds from banging into our windows.
First, I made sure the glass was clean and free of any grease that might prevent adhesion. I chose a light- colored wood grain design vinyl adhesive paper, which I found in the local big box discount store. I then measured the window diagonally from corner to corner, and cut my first strip that length, plus 3 inches to allow for waste. There is a grid on the paper backing, so measuring 2 inch strips was a breeze. You can use any width you want, depending on the size of your windows. However, you don’t want the strips so close together that they might obscure your view.
I started my first strip in an upper corner of the window and adhered the strip to the window glass in a straight line, ending in the opposite bottom corner. I trimmed the excess adhesive paper and measured for the next strip. Keeping the strips in a straight line is easy if you make a cardboard template that is your desired width (I chose 2″ wide), and long enough to reach from corner to corner on your window. Use the template as a spacer to assure a uniform distance from one strip to another. Instead of cardboard, you might choose to use a long piece of wood that is the desired width.
Continue to add strips diagonally in one direction, and then start in the opposite upper corner and repeat. This pattern reminds me of an English country house. I think it makes a charming addition to the look of our house. Visibility is not impaired for me, and no birds have hit our windows since I installed this treatment.
I have washed the windows as usual, but with a gentle hand. So far the pattern has remained in tact and still looks great. It has weathered rain, snow, sleet, wind, hot sun and various window cleaners beautifully.
Another solution is the decorative window decals sold online through wild bird suppliers. The decals are invisible to us, but reflect ultraviolet light to warn the birds. They come in different shapes and sizes and are much less labor intensive than the first option.
One more possible remedy: Do you remember Glass Wax? I do. As kids we always decorated my grandmother’s windows with Glass Wax Holiday stencils. Because the product was a paste type of glass cleaner, it worked very well. There are lots of plastic stencils available in craft and hobby stores. This would be a fun way for your kids to help save birds.
These are a few ways to keep birds from colliding with your beautiful glass windows and doors. Use any of them, or think outside the box and come up with some creative ideas that will work for your particular situation.
Terrible window collisions can be avoided if you make the effort to insure your backyard wild birds keep flying safely!