Windows may not seem particularly menacing, yet sadly they are responsible for the deaths of up to one billion birds in the United States annually. As the Washington Post reports, between 365 and 988 million birds die after accidentally slamming into windows each year.
If you’re like me, after reading that statistic, you immediately feel guilty for living in a home at all. With a little more than half of birds smacking into windows over four stories and a little under one half running into homes three stories or less, all windowed buildings seem to pose a threat to the bird population.
While you may not be able to prevent these unfortunate incidents altogether, there are some things you can do to cut on the number of accidents. After consulting advice from Lifehacker and About.com Birding, here are five easily implementable tips that could save some birds’ lives:
1. Hang Blinds, Shutters or Curtains
All of these window adornments go a long way to cut down on a window’s reflection. It is particularly effective when the blinds, shutters or curtains are drawn. Admittedly, these devices will obscure the light coming in from outside, as well as your view from the outside, but there are ways to angle shutters and blinds to allow some of both to occur while still minimizing the window’s reflection.
2. Don‘t Wash Your Windows
Heck, I’ll take any excuse to put off doing a household chore, but this one has a potentially life-saving justification. Dirtier windowpanes cut down on the reflection and transparency of the windows, perhaps enough to alert a bird that it is not approaching open air.
If not washing the windows permanently doesn’t seem reasonable, you could always wait until the winter or summer when birds aren’t migrating, thus cutting down on the number of unfamiliar birds passing by your home.
3. Mark up the Windows Yourself
It’d be silly to intentionally dirty your windows, but there are other ways to mark up the glass to prevent birds from soaring into them. Window paint or markers, tape or even decals can all do the trick. The key is to space the items or designs close together, since when they’re more than four inches apart, birds tend to assume they can fly around the object or drawing and smack into a different part of the window instead.
Obviously, the downside is that by laying tape or decorating with markers and paints, you’re obstructing your own view out the window. For that reason, some bird enthusiasts opt to use seasonal decorations or something particularly artistic to make the clutter seem less obnoxious.
4. Keep Indoor Houseplants Away from the Windows
Although a lot of people think they’re being considerate by giving their plant direct access to sunlight, putting them too close to the window can provide birds with the wrong kind of signals. Some birds mistake the sight of a plant as a sign that the outdoors is continuing ahead and tragically ignore the plate of glass in front of them.
5. Strategically Place Bird Feeders
The best place to position a bird feeder is just three feet away from a window. From this spot, birds will be likely to stop for some food rather than smacking into the window. Moreover, once they’re at the feeder, they’re better able to see that the window is not a space that can be traversed. Though some unobservant birds might still leave the feeder and fly into the window, they won’t be able to build up enough speed to seriously injure themselves.
If you’d rather not put the feeder right by the window, then the further away from the window the better. By giving the feeder at least a 15 foot buffer from your home, that minimizes the likelihood that birds will cross paths with a window.
Photo credits: Thinkstock