Posts Tagged ‘Window Strike’

Once a week, I am offering up a tip or action or idea that we can all engage with to help reduce waste, use less materials and energy, help conserve species or habitats, and/or generally work towards living in ways that allow for more health and wellbeing for all aspects of the planet.

This week the green thought is about windows and the danger they pose to birds. Birds often have a hard time seeing windows. When birds can see through an area, they think they can fly through that area. Especially if the window if reflecting the surrounding sky and vegetation, or if there is another window across the room making a passage through seem possible, birds may attempt to fly through and can collide with the window pane quite hard. Collisions with windows kill almost 1 billion birds a year just in the USA, so this is definitely a very big problem.

This diamond pattern of lines can help to prevent birds colliding with this window. Photo: Alexandra Smith

A bunch of solutions are out there. Window decals can work. These are basically stickers that are placed on a window pane so that birds will notice that a window is solid. However, to be effective, decals must be placed 2 to 4 inches apart. If they are spaced more widely, birds ma try and fly through the gaps. Patterns of lines or dots can be just as effective as other shapes such as bird or leaf silhouettes. Other solutions are to put screens in front of windows or to close curtains or blinds behind windows. Placing bird feeders near, or even attached to, windows also helps because the birds are more likely to see the window when it is close, and also will not be able to build up speed if they do fly into it.

What do you think of these thoughts and the solutions? Do you have any other solution ideas?

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Birds striking windows is rather common and accounts for a lot of bird moralities each year.  I often get asked what one should do if they find a bird that has struck a window.  Well, yesterday, at my mom’s house, a Warbling Vireo hit one of the windows, and this prompted me to provide a little information on what to do.  The vireo was quite stunned, sitting on the deck and breathing very heavily.  To know how stressed a songbird is, there are a few warning signs.  The three most common signs are fluffed feathers (when the bird raises their feathers up away from their skin), labored breathing (sometimes it can get so labored that their whole body heaves with each breath), and closing of the eyes.  If a bird is found that shows any of these signs, the best course of action is to place the bird in a dark, quite, warm place.  Whatever the container is used, make sure that air can circulate through it.  Birds seem to recover from the stress of an impact best when they are left in such a setting for 15 to 20 minutes.

The reasoning for this kind of treatment is as follows.  Birds are highly visually sensitive, that they can be overstimulated by a lot of visual activity.  If they are already stressed from an injury, this extra input can be more then they can easily deal with, so being in the dark seems to let birds lower their stress levels.  This is why it is important to keep the bird in a dark place.  This principal is why falconers use hood on their birds.  By limiting the amount of visual stimuli, they can keep their raptors calm.  While birds a mostly visually sensitive animals, they also have fine hearing, and keeping their environment quite when they are recovering is another way to reduce the level of stress in a bird.  Finally, birds have a significantly higher metabolism than humans and have a higher basal temperature.  When they are highly stressed, they seem to loose some of the ability to regulate their own temperature and so cool off, which is bad, and which is why a warm place is so important.

I have had very good success with this technique in many situations (including when the warmest place available was in my shirt), and it worked for the Warbling Vireo.  After about 20 minutes, it was recovered enough to fly away go back to its insect eating life.  Hopefully it will remember to be more careful and not run into windows any more.

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