Birding in British Columbia

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Song Birds and Killer Windows

By K. Slagboom

Glass, it lets the sun in and keeps the cold (and heat) out. It also makes a near perfect mirror when conditions are right. To a song bird, a patch of blue sky in a wall can mean a broken neck and death. Our architectural designs are now using more and more glass to make our livings space bright and spacious but resident and migrant song birds pay dearly for our comforts.

Small, quick, ground birds (mainly songbirds and thrushes) are the most susceptible to our windows. Lighter birds have a better chance of bouncing off the glass and surviving the impact but larger birds like the robin are more likely to incur severe injury. In most cases, it's not the impact that kills birds but the onset of shock and its associate complications. A small bird might freeze because it collided with a window then fell dazed into a snow drift. Or, the neighbourhood cat comes over to investigate when our stunned warbler is cowering in the dirt. In one way or another, shock will leave a bird vulnerable to its environment and with the perils we bring in our urban and suburban lifestyle, our little friends do have much of a chance.

Ok, so how can we prevent our birds colliding with our home windows?

Why not try putting up a sign! Merlin silhouettes have been used with success. It seems a songbirds natural instinct is strong enough even to avoid this predator's likeness.

When displayed on the outside of the window, the silhouettes presence as a market for the window helps to redirect potential collisions. Other options include hanging a piece of tin foil, installing screens or shutters, or by moving food sources such as feeders away from the window. Finally, by not cleaning the outside of your windows, you can leave a bird enough visual clues so that it can see the glass hazard.

So the next time you wash your windows, remember that your also making it harder for birds to avoid. "Perhaps that is why seagulls and pigeons paint them for us."

Merlin Silhouette Bird Warning
Click here for printable image

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