Protecting Birds One Window at a Time

Window collision tape tells birds the glass is a solid surface to avoid. Photo by Angie Trumbo – International Bird Rescue

Mid-April through mid-May is the prime time for spring bird migration in most of North America. Amidst the seasonal marvel of bird migration, a silent threat lurks: window collisions. As billions of birds embark on their journeys, let’s make the time to take small actions toward living more harmoniously with birds and other wildlife. One simple way to protect birds in your community is to help prevent window collisions.

The Problem

A Common Yellowthroat lies motionless after flying into a window. Photo by Devin Mingesbruney

The American Bird Conservancy estimates that over one billion birds die each year due to window strikes, over 40% of which are collisions with homes and other small buildings three stories high and under. When people think about the birds affected by window collisions, many think of migrating songbirds, but did you know that waterbirds are affected as well?

The Global Bird Collision Mapper shows 185 waterbird collisions reported in North America spanning 27 different species. Matthew Shumar, Program Coordinator of the Ohio Bird Conservation Initiative has noted that rails in particular appear to be more susceptible to window strikes, likely because they migrate at night. During their window collision survey efforts, participants collected 48 rails. Each year, Bird Rescue takes in patients who have been the victims of window strikes as well. While some of these patients have made it to release, treating injuries from window collisions can be very difficult, if the birds survive long enough to make it to a rehabilitator in the first place. Birds that hit windows may have traumatic brain injuries, fractures of bones in the head or chest, or injuries to their eyes.

The best way to help these birds is by preventing collisions in the first place.

The Solution

Feather Friendly Window Collision Tape is available on the Bird Rescue store.

Protecting birds from window collisions can start at home. You can help birds avoid your windows by making them more visible to them in a variety of ways. American Bird Conservancy has tips for preventing bird collisions at home. For large, reflective windows, applying external cords or decals can be effective when done to the specifications outlined by the American Bird Conservancy. Feather Friendly window collision tape, now available on the Bird Rescue store, is one example of an effective, easy-to-install product that will help keep birds safe around your home.

More Ways to Help

Report Collisions

If you see a bird collide with a window, contain it in a small box with soft fabric or tissue at the bottom and contact your local wildlife rehabilitator. Injuries from these collisions can be worse than meets the eye, so professional evaluation is needed, even if the bird appears alert and would be able to fly off after a period of rest. If the bird does not survive the strike, you can still contribute important citizen science data on this issue. Report the strike on databases like the Global Bird Collision Mapper or iNaturalist. Your data can help researchers better understand the issue and improve prevention methods.

Join a Survey Effort

Some regions have window collision survey programs that engage citizen scientists. Check with your local bird conservation organizations to find out if there is a program near you!

Support Efforts to Build Bird-Safe Buildings

Many cities are taking steps toward implementing bird-safe architecture in new buildings. Recently, the city of Berkeley, CA, passed an ordinance requiring window collision mitigation in new residential office buildings, thanks to advocacy from the Golden Gate Bird Alliance. You can use your voice to help promote these efforts and let your local representatives know that bird-safe buildings are important to you.

Celebrate World Migratory Bird Day at Bird Rescue’s Open House

Join us on Saturday, May 11 for a World Migratory Bird Day Celebration. Reserve your free tickets on Eventbrite.

Join us on Saturday, May 11 at this family-friendly event offering a rare, behind-the-scenes glimpse into the daily life of BirdRescue’s San Francisco Bay-Delta Wildlife Center. We’ll have education stations and will be offering tours throughout the day, where you will gain insight on how our team cares for thousands orphaned, injured, and oiled birds each year.

You’ll also get a chance to head to our education site at nearby Cordelia Slough, where our staff await to take you on a journey through a portion of the largest brackish marsh on the entire west coast. It’s a perfect way to celebrate World Migratory Bird Day – under the Pacific Flyway! Reserve your free tickets on Eventbrite.